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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 Advance HE (formerly Leadership Foundation in Higher Education) programmes.

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 inhouse 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 women and those who identify as a woman. 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 all four development days plus the two action learning set days and be prepared to undertake some self-directed study.
  • Attend introduction to Aurora event and mentoring training at the University.
  • 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.
  • Willing to host an action learning set day at their institution, with the support of their institution.
  • 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 an expression of interest email stating why they would like to join Aurora and confirm their availability for the programme dates. Your line manager must also submit an email to state their support for your application.

Applications for the 2020/21 Aurora Programme are now closed. The next call for interest will be made in Spring/Summer 2021.

Who is the programme for? 

"Aurora is for those who identify as women up to senior lecturer level or professional services equivalent in a university or higher education college, ambitious for a career in the sector and interested in exploring leadership and management as one option for progression."  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 and by the Assistant Vice-Principal (Diversity). 

Who are the University of St Andrews Aurora Champions?

Professor Sally Mapstone (Principal and Vice-Chancellor), Professor Ruth Woodfield (Assistant Vice-Principal Diversity), Sukhi Bains (Head of E&D)

How much does it cost?

The costs are £1,315 (plus VAT) per participant (as of Oct 2019) plus travel expenses, which are fully funded by the University's Diversity cost centre.

What are the programme requirements and time commitment?

Aurora consists of six 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; Power and Politics; Core Leadership Skills; and Adaptive Leadership Skills. You will also attend two action learning set days organised by participants within your assigned group.

NOTE: for 2020/21 the programme will be delivered online.

What are the proposed start and finish times for the development days?
It is expected that the days will run from 10am for a 10.30am start and finish by 4.30pm.

Can I attend other development days in other parts of the UK?

Ideally participants will undertake all of their Aurora activity on the same cohort and this will be the one geographically closest to them 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 part of the UK, if not able to attend the first choice one held in Scotland.

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?

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
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, Antropological 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 - Proctor's Office
Jennifer Lambert Finance
Gillian Sinclair Finance
Louise Reid Geography & 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 & 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 (German)
Caron Gentry International Relations
Claudia Rossignoli Italian 
Emily Finer Modern Languages (Russian)
Emily Michelson History
Erin Robbins Psychology & 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 (Spanish)

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 (Russian)

Lorna Stevenson


Jo Inchley


Juan Ye

Computer Science


Human Resources

University of St Andrews
Walter Bower House

St Andrews
KY16 0US
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: +44(0)1334 463096