Aurora and FAQs

Advance HE Aurora guidance

In November 2017 the University, with funding and support endorsed by the Principal, made a commitment within its Athena Swan Institutional Action Plan, action 4.2(a) for: Annual participation in the Aurora programme.

Statement of support from Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal and Vice-Chancellor:

‘I support and advocate the Aurora programme. It is part of a suite of equality initiatives in the University of St Andrews. It affords women in grades 6-8 support, comment, and good networking opportunities in the sector at an important stage in their careers, and it can be a good launching point for academic women for our in-house Elizabeth Garrett programme. We have seen great advances in women’s representation in higher education over the past forty years, but there is still more progress to be made, and the Aurora programme is a way of moving that along. If you are interested in exploring your career options, building contacts in the sector, and testing yourself in a supportive environment, do consider undertaking this programme.’

About Aurora:

Aurora is Advance HE's leadership development initiative for those who identify as women. It is a unique partnership initiative bringing together leadership experts and higher education institutions to take positive action to address the under-representation of women in leadership positions in the sector. 

Further information and dates are available from the Advance HE webpages

Expectations of participants:

  • Committed to the full Aurora process:
    • attending introduction to Aurora event and mentoring training at the University
    • attending all four Advance HE delivered online development days and the in-person event, plus the two action learning set days
    • prepared to undertake some self-directed study.
  • Undertake all pre-work set for the course in advance of attending each development day.
  • Liaise with a Mentor within the University to communicate progress or issues during the programme.
  • Ready to embrace the mentoring relationship, and actively work with their mentors to address their personal development and build their self-reliance.
  • Committed to a career in HE and prepared to devote some time to thinking about and planning their career.
  • Prepared to embrace the extensive networking opportunities and participate fully in Aurora.
  • Willing to undertake projects or assignments for their institution in order to build on their developing leadership skills.
  • Prepared to participate in a longitudinal study to gauge the effectiveness of Aurora.
  • Willing to act as mentors or role models to future participants.


How do I apply?

A call for participants will be made by the central EDI Team in advance of the programme. Applicants will be requested to submit a completed application form that outlines why they would like to join Aurora and indicates the support of their line manager.

Recruitment for the 2023/24 Aurora Programme is now closed. Please contact if you would like to register your interest for future calls. The next call will be made in summer 2024. 

Who is the programme for? 

As stated by Advance HE: Aurora is for those who identify as women up to senior lecturer level or professional services equivalent in a university or higher education college, who would like to develop and explore issues relating to leadership roles and responsibilities.  Therefore the programme is suitable for University staff at Grade 6, 7 or 8, and not as a head of school or director of a unit.  

How will staff be selected?

Staff selection is conducted by the central EDI Team, including an Aurora Champion. 

Who are the University of St Andrews Aurora Champions?

Professor Dame Sally Mapstone (Principal and Vice-Chancellor), Rebekah Widdowfield (VP People and Diversity), Sukhi Bains (Head of E&D)

Karen McGregor (EDI Team) manages the administration of the programme at St Andrews.

How much does it cost?

The costs for 2023/24 are £1025 per participant, which are fully funded by the University's Diversity cost centre. Travel expenses to the in person session in Edinburgh will be covered by the University.

What are the programme requirements and time commitment?

Aurora consists of seven interlinked days with additional self-directed learning throughout the programme. Each participant is required to attend one of each of the four development days: Identity, Impact and Voice; Politics and Influence; Core Leadership Skills; and Adaptive Leadership Skills. You will also attend two action learning set days organised by participants within your assigned group. An in-person meeting will take place in Edinburgh.

The University also holds a welcome event for participants which includes an introduction to mentoring, and Advance HE provides an  introduction session to support participants taking the programme.

A series of optional online enhancements for informal networking will run throughout the programme (dates/times to be announced).

What are the proposed start and finish times for the activities?

The development days and action learning sets will run from 10am and finish by 3.00pm. The in person event will run from 10am and finish by 4.00pm. The introduction/information sessions are part-day (timing to be announced).

It is suggested that you block the whole day in your calendar to allow time for relection on the activities and learning.

Can I attend other development days in another cohort?

Ideally, participants will undertake all of their Aurora activity on the same cohort, which for St Andrews participants will be the Scotland cohort to facilitate the formation and maintenance of regional networks. Subject to availability of space in the alternate cohort, participants are able to transfer one of the development days to another cohort.

How does Aurora relate to University diversity awards, such as Athena Swan?

Career development and mentoring for women is a major part of Athena Swan. An action to support staff advancement under the programme is one of the ways in which the University and/or schools can support the career development of women in the workplace to progress into senior roles. 

Is a women-only programme legal?

Under UK legislation and the Scottish Specific Duties (2012) resulting from the Equality Act (2010) it is lawful to take positive action to address under representation and minimise workplace disadvantage. 

Who were supported by the University in  previous cohorts?

2023/24 cohort (22 supported):

Name School/Unit
Stefanie Eminger Academic Registry
Shereen Derkani Admissions
Wei Lin Admissions
Gill Braulik Biology
Jillian Connolly Business Transformation
Dee McDougall-Bagnall Business Transformation
Rachel McEwen Careers Service
Silvia Synowsky Chemistry
Sam Dixon Classics
Katrin Bosse Divinity
Karen Murphy Education and Student Experience
Jessica Hope Geography and Sustainable Development
Bronagh Masterson Global Office
Paula Villegas Verdu International Education Institute
Faye Donnelly International Relations
Keru Cai Modern Languages
Anna Stefaniak Psychology and Neuroscience
Rees Hughes Research and Innovation Services
Rebecca Hyndman Student Services
Nioma Robertson Student Services
Maria Iannino University of St Andrews Business School
Xi Xi University of St Andrews Business School

2022/23 cohort (18 supported):

Name School/Unit
Shona Melville Admissions
Gail Davidson Business Transformation
Karen Hall Careers Centre
Amy Kinsman Careers Centre
Aisling Crean CEED
Margherita Negri Economics and Finance
Amanda Cook Estates
Antje Brown Geography and Sustainable Development
Montserrat Lopez Jerez History
Audrey Horsburgh Graduate School
Bethany McNally IT Services
Neha Gopinath Management
Eiren Jacobson Mathematics and Statistics
Theoni Photopoulou Mathematics and Statistics
Eilidh Lawrence Museum Collections
Ellen Thomson Music Centre
Louise Soutar Office of the Principal
Jennifer Pritchard Research and Innovation Services

2021/22 cohort (36 supported):

Name School/Unit
Laura Aitken Biology
Verena Dietrich-Bischoff Biology
Zoe Hutchison Biology
Laura Pels Ferra Biology
Maria Drummond Business Transformation Portfolio Office
Shruti Narayanswamy CEED
Julia Payne Chemistry
Christina Fell Computer Science
Areti Manataki Computer Science
Mahnaz Mohammadi Computer Science
Rebekah Lamb Divinity
Kathryn Davidson Finance
Lesley Duncan Finance
Jo Hale Geography and Sustainable Development
Katherine Keenan Geography and Sustainable Development
Harriet Sheridan Global Office
Claudia Kreklau History
Kirsty McCall International Education Institute
Erin Wood IT Services
Danielle Harris Mathematics and Statistics
Deborah Kent Mathematics and Statistics 
Cornelia Oedekoven Mathematics and Statistics 
Isobel Webster Mathematics and Statistics 
Swati Arya Medicine
Morag Mansley Medicine
Ros Holmes Modern Languages
Polina Kliuchnikova Modern Languages
Pauline Souleau Modern Languages
Jessica Burdge Museum Collections
Lesley Caldwell Office of the Principal
Pauline Destree Philosophical, Anthropological & Film Studies
Becky Blain Registry
Stacie Robertson Registry
Federica Fina Research and Innovation Services
Tamara Lawson Research and Innovation Services
Fiona Whelan Student Services
Helen Faulds University Library

2020/21 cohort (14 supported):

Name School/Unit
Julie Oswald Biology
Margaret Adamson CEED
Rebecca Wilson CEED
Elizabeth Andrews Library
Anna Brown Management
Juliette Summers Management
Siobhan Lynch Medicine
Kathryn Steven Medicine
Isla Tabberer Medicine
Emily Feamster Office of the Principal
Moira Sinclair Planning
Gayle Doherty Psychology and Neuroscience
Laura Bates Research and Innovation Services
Jan McTaggart The Byre Theatre

2019/20 cohort (24 supported):

Name School/Unit
Catherine Adamson Biology
Catriona Harris Biology
Carolin Kosiol Biology
Lindsay Wilson Business Transformation Portfolio Office
Heather McKiggan-Fee CAPOD
Dharini Balasubramaniam Computer Science
Emma Shea Corporate Communications
Katie Garner English
Christine Linton Environmental Health and Safety Service
Helen Mackie Estates
Lucy Donaldson Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Christine Reid Finance
Louise Nixon Human Resources
Hannah Coutts IT Services
Brenda Dobbie IT Services
Ruth Bowness Medicine
Joanne Cecil Medicine
Karen Hunter Medicine
Samantha Pitt Medicine
Alison Sandeman Medicine
Rebecca Walmsley Medicine
Jennifer Awang Planning
Jackie Proven Research and Innovation Services
Claire Scott Saints Sport

2018/19 cohort (23 supported):

Name School/Unit
Tracey Gloster Biology
Judith Sleeman Biology
Rosalind Campbell Office of the Principal
Jennifer Lambert Finance
Gillian Sinclair Finance
Louise Reid Geography and Sustainable Development
Gillian Mitchell History
Pauline Brown IT Services
Veronica O'Carroll Medicine
Emma Herdman Modern Languages
Dora Osbourne Modern Languages
Victoria Turner Modern Languages
Margarita Vaysman Modern Languages
Sarah Bennison Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Claudia Cisneros-Foster Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Alison Kerr Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Stavroula Pipyrou Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Lucy Hadfield Physics and Astronomy
Marianne MacKinnon RBS
Sarah Pay RBS
Angela Johnston Registry
Liliana Martins e Caneco Registry
Lara Meischke Student Services

2017/18 cohort (24 supported):

Name School/Unit
Stephanie O'Rourke Art History
Amanda Baizan Edge Biology
Emma Defew Biology
Ildiko Somorjai  Biology
V Anne Smith Biology
Alexia Petsalis-Diomidis Classics
Gosia Mitka  Economics and Finance
Sharon Leahy Geography and Sustainable Development
Katherine Roucoux Geography and Sustainable Development
Sarah Easterby-Smith  History
Kate Ferris History
Fiona McCallum International Relations
Anita Laidlaw  Medicine
Gozde Ozakinci  Medicine
Ruth Cruickshank  Medicine
Katie Jones  Modern Languages
Emma Bond Modern Languages
Victoria Donovan Modern Languages
Katie Allan Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Maggie Ellis Psychology and Neuroscience
Laurence Lasselle Management
Julie Brooks  Management
Shona Russell  Management
Claudia Cyganowski Physics and Astronomy

2016/17 cohort (10 supported):

Name School/Unit
Bettina Bildhauer Modern Languages
Caron Gentry International Relations
Claudia Rossignoli Italian 
Emily Finer Modern Languages
Emily Michelson History
Erin Robbins Psychology and Neuroscience
Ishbel Duncan Computer Science
Karen Brown  Art History
Leshu Torchin  Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
Madhavi Nevader Divinity

 2015/16 cohort (10 supported):



Anne-Marie Weijmans

Physics and Astronomy

Catherine O'Leary

Modern Languages

Clare Peddie


Donna Pierz-Fennell


Eleanor Burt


Juliana Bowles

Computer Science

Julie Struthers


Morven Shearer


Sibylle Scheipers

International Relations

Nicola Milton

Office of the Principal

2014/15 cohort (5 supported):



Aileen Fyfe


Claire Whitehead

Modern Languages

Lorna Stevenson


Jo Inchley


Juan Ye

Computer Science