The Graduate Programme for University Leadership
  • A scheme like Ambitious Futures is crucial to help the sector attract and retain the range of talented individuals needed to ensure a continuous pipeline into future HE leadership.

    Liam, University of the Arts London / University of Oxford
  • Networking with leaders across the sector introduces you to governance, policy and strategy at the highest levels. What’s more, you lead on three operationally significant projects at two institutions. Ambitious Futures offers an unrivaled breadth of experience.

    Joshua, Lancaster University / University of Manchester
  • Ambitious Futures was the best possible accelerator for my career in HE. Since joining the scheme, I secured a role I love, at the university where I completed my second placement. Making that step wouldn’t have been imaginable without Ambitious Futures.

    Jack, University of Cambridge / London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
  • I completed projects in the following areas: mentoring for Athena SWAN; ensuring compliance with the Competitions & Markets Authority; and policy management. Through the placements, I was able to build on my knowledge of the HE sector, discover where I wanted to work and, ultimately, get the job I wanted.

    Liz, University of Dundee / University of Aberdeen

In a constantly evolving and challenging sector, we take the development of high-quality future leaders very seriously. That's why Ambitious Futures will invest in your career development, expose you to a range of interesting business areas and work cultures - and ultimately enable you to become one of the industry's most influential senior figures.

A rotational programme

The opportunity to experience different universities and different functional departments will be invaluable for your development. It opens up new potential career paths and demonstrates that a career in this sector is diverse with a range of challenging and rewarding roles.

You'll be employed by a host university and will take part in an 18-month programme split into three placements. The first and last of these will be based at your host university, while the middle placement will take you to a different partner institution.

The type of work you'll be involved in will be project-based and wide-ranging. We aim for you to complete a variety of different projects in a fairly short space of time, and in many cases, you will be able to see the results of your work being implemented across the university.

Build your network

Our current trainees will tell you how much they've enjoyed and valued the opportunity to network with fellow graduates. Throughout the programme, you'll be brought together in clusters for group coaching sessions, and as a whole group for your eLAMP end of module workshops. It's an informal opportunity to share your experiences and learn about the career ambitions of your peers, as you move forward together into an exciting new future.

  • Your induction will start on the 4 September 2019, introducing you to the programme and the wide-ranging remit of the Higher Education sector.
  • As well as carrying out three rotational placements, you will also undertake a sector-specific leadership programme. The Emerging Leaders and Managers Program (eLAMP) is designed for new and aspiring University managers. This accredited programme provides accessible and relevant professional development for aspiring and current higher education managers. Through a programme of facilitated, blended learning, this course will enable trainees to develop their skills, knowledge and aptitudes to lead and manage effectively.
  • You will be allocated a mentor at your host university, giving you access to independent advice and guidance and an objective sounding board for ideas and issues


  • Careers Service: Review of bespoke development programmes. Work placement projects.
  • Alumni Relations: Collaborative partnerships and engagement with students
  • Finance: Department restructuring and new systems implementation
  • Marketing & Press Office: Internal and external communication strategies
  • Human Resources: Implementation of staff development programmes
  • International Partnerships: Student recruitment and international partnerships
  • Academic Departments and Research Centres: Research and teaching & learning project evaluation and impact. Curriculum development initiatives. Academic Enterprise.
  • Student Services: Recruitment projects, student experience review and well being projects
  • Governance: Research Excellence Framework implementation and review. Data Protection – implementing new GDPR legislation.
  • Strategy, Policy and Planning: Business improvement
  • Estates: Supporting capital projects and environmental sustainability planning
  • Outreach: Widening participation and social mobility
  • IT: Embracing and implementing new technologies
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