Applications for the 2026 Programme will open in Autumn 2025

This Programme runs every two years. The next iteration will take place in 2026 with the application process opening in 2025. If you would like to receive further information, please complete this form.

The Professional Service Directors’ Programme is aimed at Directors and Heads of Professional Services in HE, for example, Directors of Finance, Estates, HR, Student Services, IT, Research etc, who have between 1 and 3 years’ experience in the role.

The programme is supported by AHEP (formerly AUA), AUDE, BUFDG, SCONUL and UHR who have collaborated with the AHUA on devising the programme’s content and structure.


Those working at Director level are required to demonstrate expertise and deliver effectively in their functional areas, while aligning their activities with the academic landscape and contributing to the wider, ever-changing organisational agenda. As well as strategic intelligence and the ability to ‘read’ the political environment, they require confidence in communication and rapport building, and considerable self-awareness.

This programme has been designed to enhance and develop the existing leadership skills, knowledge, experience and mindset of early-career Directors and Heads within higher education professional services, to achieve greater personal impact and influence.

Programme Overview

Through a range of tailored activities including individual sessions, action learning and whole group workshops featuring specialist guest contributors, participants will explore what’s needed to become more effective in their roles from several different perspectives.

Learning experiences will be interactive and experiential, enabling participants to work with live studies and real challenges in readiness for applying them in practice. This approach, together with the safe and confidential environments created both online and in-person, will allow individuals to refine their skills, test and challenge their thinking, and feel confident to learn from mistakes as well as good practice.

Programme Objectives

As a result of the programme, participants will have:

Who is this programme for?

Early-career Directors and Heads of professional services who have been in role for 1-3 years. It is open to both those who are new to higher education and those with experience of the sector.

What the programme includes

Taking place over 13 months, the programme’s combination of in-person and online experiences amounts to a total of 8 days. Dates and further details are summarised below.

Key components of the programme include:

Dates of the 2024 Programme


£5,950 for AHUA member institutions;

£6,950 for non-members.

(No VAT as the AHUA is VAT exempt).

Programme facilitators

Rachel Holmes
Kim Newton-Woof

Rachel has a wide range of experience in the private and public sectors, designing and delivering personal and team development programmes for clients in HE, the NHS and the pharmaceutical, legal, financial service and not-for-profit sectors. After an early career with a major publisher of psychometric instruments, she established her own consultancy in 2001. Originally a team development specialist, Rachel is also a qualified executive coach. She has worked with clients across the HE sector for the last 17 years, and is part of the pool of AHUA registered coaches providing support to both newly appointed and experienced COOs and Registrars through coaching and facilitated Action Learning Sets. Rachel is also a co-director of the AHUA’s other flagship development offer, the Aspiring Registrar and COO Programme.

After a decade of working in higher education, Kim now operates as an independent specialist leadership consultant, facilitator and coach. Still operating as a trusted partner in the university sector, she also supports other sectors including, FE, health, finance, media and charity. Kim spends her days designing and delivering development experiences with and for leaders and teams. Taking a human-first approach, she uses creative ways help leaders fine-tune what they do, make different choices, and develop their own solutions. An AHUA Associate based in Southampton, Kim provides coaching services for newly appointed AHUA members, is a facilitator for the Association’s Action Learning Sets and co-director of the Aspiring Registrar and COO Programme.

Related Resources

Submit your interest to the next iteration

Professional Service Directors’ Programme brochure

Programme Terms and Conditions

Contact the AHUA office team

Programme supported by