Developing future leaders for higher education


International Women's Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The campaign theme for International Women's Day 2022 is Break the Bias. Whether deliberate or unconscious, bias makes it difficult for women to move ahead. Knowing that bias exists isn’t enough, action is needed to level the playing field.


Aurora is an Advance HE programme that takes positive action to address the under- representation of women in leadership positions across the HE sector.

Aurora is an Advance HE programme that takes positive action to address the under- representation of women in leadership positions across the HE sector. It supports women and their institutions to fulfil their leadership potential through thought provoking activities, collaborative problem-solving and motivating stories supported by inspirational women role models. Participation embeds strong networks of women across the sector to share best practice, insights and experiences. Since 2017, over 60 UWTSD staff have engaged with the programme as participants, mentors or role models.

UWTSD’s Organisational Development Manager, Sara Mills said: “I feel very proud to be able to champion Aurora for UWTSD. It is a privilege to observe the confidence of our Aurora participants grow during their time on the programme and beyond. Some have progressed their careers to executive level and are now mentoring others through the programme, who are at earlier stages in their careers.  A huge thank you to our internal mentors, it is exciting to see our UWTSD Aurora network grow! We believe greater diversity can be achieved by taking a collaborative, positive approach to understanding and empowering female leadership and that’s what Aurora is all about.”

Some of this year’s UWTSD Aurora participants share their experiences and aspirations below:

We asked them…

What have you valued about your Aurora experience to date?

I have been encouraged to take part in the Aurora programme in the past but have always been hesitant. I’m so glad that I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone this year! It has been fantastic to hear the stories of other amazing women, from a diverse range of backgrounds. The opportunity to network and speak to so many women across the sector is great”. Kath Griffiths, International Regional Manager, Wales Global Academy

The confidence it has already given me in so few sessions. I have agreed to be the chair of Woman in STEM group for the University. Something I would have really shied away from not so long ago. It’s already teaching me to trust myself more and give myself more time.Barbara Pugh, Executive Systems Development Officer, Digital Services

I have valued the amount of positivity and push Aurora has given me to thinking openly about myself and my leadership. It has led me to look at the different entities of leadership and where I sit within those entities. It's also allowed me to meet likeminded individuals, to get to know each other and where we can possibly help within our different work settings. Aurora is already setting its stone in both my confidence and leadership. I'm coming away from each session feeling more and more liberated than the last!” Chloe Parsons, Business Development Manager, Estates and Facilities

“Of real benefit so far has been the opportunity to reflect on oneself... what do I do, how do I do it, and what do I tell others about myself whether deliberately or by my behaviours, body language and approach. Reassuring always, is the real opportunity to speak with the wider Aurora cohort, from different locations, different job roles and facing different but also very similar challenges. The feeling of 'membership' is really important, and this supports the feeling of freedom and the opportunity to speak openly about challenges... others have the same and how reassuring is that!” Dr. Jayne Griffith-Parry, Lecturer, Institute of Management and Health

How do you envisage Aurora will help you in your role and beyond?

I am hoping that it will make me feel more empowered to make a difference, and lead to positive outcomes on projects I am involved in currently and in the future.” Barbara Pugh, Executive Systems Development Officer, Digital Services

I hope Aurora will allow me to further my career in Higher Education with assertiveness and confidence in my leadership. I hope it will give me the opportunity to be my best self, and to further my belief in myself as a person and in my role at UWTSD.” Chloe Parsons, Business Development Manager, Estates and Facilities

After attending my first session, which was mainly focused on self-reflection, I became very motivated by the stories of people working in academia. I would like to complete the programme so that I can improve my leadership skills and feel I would want to give something back to the University by mentoring others”. Betsy Jose, Lecturer, Institute of Inner-City Learning

'I have already experienced a change in my approach within my colleague team, and the way in which I am taking forward a new programme. This is early days, and I am sure that further time within Aurora will benefit me greatly to establish a role within the wider institute and university team. I would have no hesitation in recommending Aurora to colleagues and have already started doing so!' Dr Jayne Griffith-Parry, Lecturer, Institute of Management and Health

“I hope that Aurora will allow me time to reflect and be more strategic with my work, which will help the team in the long run. So far, it has helped me to understand what my motivation is and how to balance the workload and projects according to that.” Inga Naruseviciute, Principal Administrative Officer, Institute of Inner-City Learning

If you would like more information on the Aurora programme at UWTSD and how to apply, please contact us at

Further Information

Rebecca Davies

Swyddog Gweithredol Cysylltiadau â’r Wasg a’r Cyfryngau

Executive Press and Media Relations Officer

Cyfathrebu Corfforaethol a Chysylltiadau Cyhoeddus

Corporate Communications and PR

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