Secretaries Programme


The AHUA's Secretaries Programme is aimed at University Secretaries* seeking to transition from being a technically-focused, ‘compliance’ subject-matter expert, to becoming a strategically-oriented governance adviser to the Governing Council, VC and Senior Management Team.

This year, the Programme will be offered as a one day, face-to-face event in London, on Thursday 14th December 2023.

If you are interested in attending, please contact the AHUA office.

Please scroll down for further information.

(*In Scotland, the title University Secretary usually encompasses a much wider role, more analogous to the Registrar/Chief Operating Officer role in the rest of the UK.  This programme is not aimed at the Scottish University Secretary role in that form).

Why we are offering this Programme

Secretaries operate at the highest level of University administration.  They have significant responsibilities which go to the heart of the efficient operation of the key decision-taking bodies within an organisation.

To have credibility in this working environment, Secretaries need to transition from being a technically-focused, ‘compliance’ subject-matter expert, to becoming a strategically-oriented governance adviser to the Governing Council and VC/Senior Management Team.  Many Secretaries have not received the training – often of a soft skills nature – to help them do this.

This programme will help you achieve this transformation and become equipped for a range of circumstances which you will face in your daily work.  Being able to manage and resolve difficult workplace situations, in particular, is a critical skill which will help you make a significant contribution to the smooth running of the administration.

Who should attend?

This Programme will be relevant for anyone with governance responsibilities, particularly in providing support to the Governing Council, the Vice Chancellor and the Senior Management Team.

You may be responsible for preparing board and committee papers; circulating the packs; minuting meetings; drafting terms of reference; providing advice on, and interpretation of, the University constitution; arranging induction programmes, training and CPD.  You may liaise with, or be from, HR, Finance, Legal, Risk, Audit etc, offering governance advice to senior colleagues in meetings, and in the normal run of business.  Your exact title will not matter.

Programme focus

The Programme will assume that you have the essential technical skills to ‘do the job’, and will be receiving appropriate ongoing technical training.

The focus of this Programme will be on transitioning from technical expert to strategic adviser, developing the soft skills and power to encourage senior colleagues to accept your advice based on your expertise, and your impact, rather than your formal status.   The Programme will help you build the confidence to have difficult conversations, and manage challenging situations.

What the Programme includes

The Programme will have four key components:

  • How to transition from the technical to the strategic
  • The capabilities needed to be a governance professional
  • What the high-performing governance professional looks like
  • How to become the governance ‘go to’


Programme Structure

The Programme will consist of a one day, face-to-face event.  This will include presentation of the practical issues involved, interaction and discussion, group work, reporting back, and case studies of how governance professionals overcame often daunting challenges to become ‘influential inside the boardroom’.

The event will be highly participative in nature and delegates will be expected to contribute – this will not be a listen and learn workshop.

During the day there will also be the chance to engage with a guest speaker.


Thursday 14th December 2023, in person in London, venue tbc.


£350 (no VAT applicable) for AHUA member institutions

£500 (no VAT applicable) for non member institutions


Applicants will be asked to complete an application form and short personal statement outlining what their role is and how this programme aligns with it.


Seamus was absolutely brilliant. I think it’s critical to have someone lead the session who has a corporate governance background from different sectors. We can all learn from each other no matter what sector we are in.

– Lucy Barling, Governance Manager, Bath Spa University

It was lovely to meet so many other people doing a similar role to me.  It was well organised and supported by AHUA colleagues.

– Kate Harvey, Secretariat Manager, Leeds Beckett University

I was so impressed with Seamus that I’ve been inspired to apply for a new job recently and although I wasn’t successful on that occasion, I wouldn’t have even considered applying if it wasn’t for the March course.

– Cohort 3 Participant


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