AHUA Reciprocal Mentoring Programme


The Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) is delighted to support a reciprocal mentoring scheme between senior Professional Service staff who identify as being from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background in Higher Education, and AHUA members.

The programme recruits senior staff of colour (Mentors) and AHUA members (AHUA Mentors) to work together in one-to-one pairings over a period of 12 months. The next iteration starts in January 2025.

Apply to become a Mentor (senior staff member of colour).

Apply to become an AHUA Mentor (AHUA Members only).

What does the programme consist of?

The programme seeks to build mutual understanding between aspiring leaders of colour and those currently in senior leadership roles.

The programme recruits senior staff of colour (Mentors) and AHUA members (AHUA Mentors) to work together in one-to-one pairings over a period of 12 months.

The Programme consists of the following elements:

  • Bespoke training to prepare participants to engage in race reciprocal mentoring conversations
  • A minimum of 6 x 1 hour meetings over the course of 12 months
  • A mid-point 6 month check-in to understand how the mentoring pairs are working and identify and action additional support if required
  • End of programme event at the end of 12 months
  • Post-course evaluation and contribution to a reflective learning process

The training and check-ins are conducted by Leyla Okhai, Diverse Minds UK.

Who is it for?

The programme recruits Professional Services senior staff of colour (typically Grade 8 and above) and AHUA members to enter into a mentoring relationship.

How will you benefit as a participant?

Mentors (senior staff of colour):

  • have the opportunity to talk frankly about challenges they face and explain issues around race that AHUA Mentors may not be aware of
  • are able to propose and discuss interventions that advance people of colour into leadership positions with someone of influence
  • have the benefit of the experience, support, sponsorship, and networks of a senior leader
  • are able to share their learning with other participants and build networks within the sector.

AHUA Mentors (AHUA members):

  • learn how to speak about race issues from a position of understanding
  • are given the opportunity to explore challenges and sensitivities in this space with someone who understands and supports the conversation
  • have the opportunity to ‘make things happen’ in their institution having explored and tested ideas with someone with lived experience
  • have the opportunity to reflect on learning with other participants and share learning more widely within AHUA and other sector bodies.

Dates of the next programme

  • Mentor Training: Wednesday 29th January 2025, half day, location TBA
  • AHUA Mentor Training: Thursday 30th January 2025, full day, location TBA
  • Meet your mentor: February 2025
  • Mid-point check in: June 2025

What will the legacy of the scheme be?

  • A cohort of Mentors (senior staff of colour) who have been supported to develop their careers.
  • Action by AHUA Mentors within their host institutions, prompted by the mentoring conversations, to reduce barriers to progression of staff from Black, Asian and Minority ethnic backgrounds.
  • The learning of both Mentors and AHUA Mentors will be disseminated to AHUA members at the Association’s conferences.  As a result, we expect to see meaningful conversations and sustainable change start to take place within institutions.

What is the AHUA and why is it doing this?

The AHUA is the representative body for senior University managers (Registrars, Chief Operating Officers, Heads of Administration) in the UK.  The Association recognises that AHUA membership is not representative of the wider HE community.  It includes very few people of colour.  Individual members are nominated by institutions which means the AHUA has no say in who joins, however by initiating this programme, the Association aims to leverage the key resource that it has – our members – to take meaningful action to enhance the diversity of senior Professional Service staff in their institutions and ultimately ensure that AHUA is a diverse and inclusive organisation.


What previous participants have said...

“I was delighted to have the opportunity to take part in this programme. It was a valuable opportunity to expand my sector network and has deepened my understanding of the barriers often faced by aspiring leaders of colour in advancing their careers within our sector. The programme has also helped me to identify practical actions I can implement as part of equality, diversity and inclusion work at my own institution.”

  • Helen Galbraith, Senior Pro Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, University of Chester (AHUA Mentor)

“I admit that I entered into the AHUA Reciprocal Mentoring Programme with a certain amount of trepidation, and I was particularly concerned about how the ‘mutual’ element would actually play out in practice. My fears were unfounded. The programme was well structured, and expectations on each side were extremely well managed from the outset. More importantly, I learned a huge amount from my AHUA mentor – and in ways that I hadn’t anticipated. I’d highly recommend taking part.”

  • Adrian Thomas, Director of Recruitment and Admissions, LSE (Mentor)

“The scheme was brilliant; it introduced me to someone who helped me see different perspectives and let me explore tricky issues in a safe environment. We have continued the relationship beyond the scheme’s formal end.”

  • Rob Kramer, University Secretary, University of the Arts London (AHUA Mentor)

How to apply

  • If you are interested in participating as a Mentor (ie you are a senior staff member of colour), please complete the online form here.
  • If you are an AHUA member and are interested in participating as an AHUA Mentor (ie you are an AHUA member and Registrar/COO), please complete the online form here.

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