Aurora 2021/2022 - Female Leadership Ignition Programme

LATEST NEWS:   Next call for applications - July 2022


1. What is Aurora?

Aurora is the women-only leadership development programme developed by Advance-HE in the UK in response to research which indicated that the level of women in influential and senior positions in higher education is now lower than well over 10 years ago. Advance HE describe it as a 'Female Leadership Ignition' programme. 

Its aims are to:

  • Increase your confidence
  • Begin journey of self-discovery

  • Develop leadership skills

  • Increase your network

  • Influence your team and sector

  • Progress your career


As with last year, Aurora '21/'22 will be delivered online. Given the ongoing situation and numbers involved (over 150 in the Ireland cohort), online is currently the best solution.  The structure in terms of delivering four content days and two action learning set days will remain.  Advance HE has adapted content to reflect many of the current themes for women leaders e.g. leadership when remote learning and working.

Internally within UCC we complement this with an initial 'Meet & Greet' so UCC participants can get to know each other and a mentoring workshop. Every participant identifies a mentor and/or we work with them to identify someone and this mentor will work with them during the year.  On conclusion, UCC holds a final internal workshop further exploring a theme they will have visited during the programme.


2. Who Can Apply?

The programme is targeted at women in lecturer, research and professional services roles (administrative & technical) across all academic disciplines and throughout university administration.  It is designed to introduce key leadership topics and skills via the workshops and action learning sessions. Further, on-going support is ensured through action learning, online resources and institutional level support including mentoring and UCC Aurora Champions. 

For '21/'22, UCC has committed to making available up to 20 places on the programme.   

  • Female academics and researchers at lecturer level or equivalent. 
  • Female professional staff (administrative & technical) up to equivalent professional services grades. 

NB: Applicants need to be ambitious for a career in the sector and interested in exploring leadership and management as one option for progression. As there is a significant institutional commitment to supporting participation on the Aurora programme, applicants must be supported by a nominator.   

3. Who can nominate UCC participants to the Aurora Programme?

UMTS members can nominate applicants to the Aurora programme & this must be endorsed by applicant's Head of Unit. 

UMTS members >>

4. Cost 

For '21/'22, taking place virtually the cost has been considerably reduced and it is €850 in total.  Staff Wellbeing & Development (HR) will provide up to 20 x €425 scholarships with local units undertaking to fund the remaining €425.   


5. Application & Nomination process

Click here >> ** AURORA Application Form 21-22 ***

Applicants must submit a personal statement (anonymised) of no more than 800 words, indicating why they should receive one of the scholarships & what the consequences of their participation will result for them, their unit and the organisation.  Applicants must explain specifically how they anticipate Aurora will change for the better the delivery of their role.  Specifically applicants need to address the following questions: 

  • What development needs and/or leadership challenges are you experiencing in your current role?
  • How do you perceive Aurora specifically i.e. a female only programme would support you in addressing these needs/challenges?
  • What specific outcomes do you wish to achieve from your engagement in Aurora 6 months after completion (Nov.'22). You may find it useful to use the SMART formula to set out your aims and outcomes (i.e. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time-bound).

NB: On the form applicants will:

  • provide nominator's support via signature on form or confirm their support via email
  • provide head of unit/manager's support via signature on form or confirm their support via email
  • provide the local unit cost code from which the fee (€425) is to be paid.
  • confirm their availability for all dates and hold these dates pending successful nomination. 

The completed form should be sent as two attachments in the same email i.e. pages 1 & 2 and page 3 in word format to, date to be confirmed, inserting Aurora Application into email subject line.

Workshop Dates 2021-2022 - One must be available to attend ALL dates.

Introduction & Guest  Speaker                               24 November '21                  
Identity, Impact & Voice 

1 December '21

Core Leadership

19 January '22

Action Learning Set 1

9 February '22 

Politics & Influence

23 March '22 

Adpative Leadership Skills 

27 April '22 

Action Learning 2 

11 May '22 


6. Evaluation of Applications

An Equality Sub-Committee will be established to access applications based on the anonymised personal statements submitted.  Applications that exceed the word limit and/or fail to provide details of Nominators, Unit level support for attendance and/or budget codes for payment of balance of fees may be eliminated.  

While it is impossible to entirely anonyomise applications, names of applicants will be removed.  Decisions will be made on the following criteria, based on the personal statements submitted:

  • How Aurora specifically will address the development needs and/or leadership challenges the applicant is experiencing in their current role;
  • The degree to which the expected outcomes as identified by the applicant are realistic and of benefit to the individual, unit and University. 

The decisions of the Equality Sub-Committee will be final.  

7. Communication of Outcomes

The Department of Human Resources, on behalf of the Equality Sub-Committee will communicate the outcome to all applicants and nominators shortly after the meeting of the Sub-Committee. 

8. Any questions?

Anne Gannon or Mary Horgan  

Feedback from UCC Aurora Class of '20/'21

"For me it has been a brilliant experience, it gave me the space to think about what I was doing, where I was going and to set goals that I had been putting off".

"My confidence grew and I now feel I have a more active voice in my work. Also, I had an incredible Mentor who made me think and consider things differently and that has been a great learning experience". 

Updated: June 2021

Staff Wellbeing & Development

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