The Aspiring Registrar and COO Programme

The Aspiring Registrar and COO Programme (previously Flying Higher) is aimed at senior university staff looking to move into the role of Registrar / Chief Operating Officer. It comprises a 2.5 day residential, individual coaching, learning sets and workshop.

The Programme runs every two years.  The next iteration will start in 2022.

If you are interested in applying, please contact Catherine Webb.




Who Should Attend

The Aspiring Registrar and COO Programme is aimed at individuals actively considering a move into the most senior Professional Services position in the university, a role which may be titled Registrar, Chief Operating Officer, Head of University Administration, or University Secretary. It offers participants a unique opportunity to explore this diverse and challenging role, and to reflect on their readiness for this, or indeed other leadership positions.

The programme is suitable for those currently working at the level of Director/Head of any of the principal Administrative and Professional Service functions or Deputy Registrar. The nature of this programme means that it will appeal to those wishing to take stock of their career and maximise their potential.

Participants are likely to have been operating at their current level for 3 to 5 years, be reporting to the Registrar / COO and be on the cusp of applying for a more senior role.

Programme Focus

  • Understanding the variety of ways in which the Registrar role is carried out across the sector and the opportunities this presents;
  • Assessing your readiness for such a leadership position and the importance of having the right ‘fit’ in terms of role and institution;
  • Exploring the complex set of relationships between senior figures in the university structure;
  • Increasing your self-awareness and the understanding of your strengths and development needs.

Programme Includes

  • A development one-to-one session with a Programme Director at both the start and finish of the programme;
  • A residential programme with both practical input and space for reflection;
  • Contributions from an experienced Registrar, a newly appointed Registrar, as well as a Vice Chancellor and Registrar from the same organisation on the demands of the role and what senior colleagues will expect of you;
  • Four full-day action-learning sessions – facilitated by an experienced coach;
  • A workshop on preparing to apply for your next role in order to maximise your chances of success.

Programme Structure

The programme takes place across 9.5 days over 11 months. It begins with a one-to-one meeting with a Programme Director (who is also a professional coach), providing the chance to prepare for the programme and explore your specific development needs. This is followed by a residential programme, four action learning sets and a workshop dedicated to equipping participants for the appointment process.

Dates for the 2020 Programme

  • Initial one-to-one: a two hour session, w/c 2nd March 2020 (London);
  • On-line event: 8th September 2020, 14.00 – 17.30;
  • 2.5 day residential programme at Crewe Hall, Cheshire: from 14.00 on 18th November to 16.30 on 20th November 2020 (Crewe Hall, Cheshire);
  • Four action learning sets on 14th January 2021, 11th March 2021, 6th May 2021, 1st July 2021. (Sets are hosted by participants and include a dinner and overnight stay the night before each meeting.  Meetings generally start at 9.00 and finish at 16.30.  This cost is not included in the programme fee);
  • Workshop: 7th October 2021 (London);
  • Final one-to-one: a two hour session, w/c 8th November 2021 (London).



Programme Fee

2020 Programme Fee: £5,750 for AHUA member institutions; £6,750 for non-members

How To Apply

The deadline for applications for the 2022 iteration of the Programme will be Friday 14th January 2022.  An application form will be available in Autumn 2021.  You will need to complete this and provide:

  • a one page personal statement outlining your experience and motivation for seeking to join the programme;
  • a copy of your CV;
  • a letter of commitment from your COO/Registrar confirming that the time and funding needed are available.

For more information please contact Catherine Webb , AHUA’s Executive Secretary.

For terms and conditions relating to all AHUA’s programmes, please see here.

What previous participants have said...

“The programme has helped me immeasurably as I have progressed in my career. It gave me the space to understand better and reflect on my own personal leadership style and how that was impacting me in trying to get the things done in my university. It also provided real focus to me in determining how I wanted my career to progress and what I needed to do to get where I wanted to be. The programme led to impact for both my employer but also for me personally and has helped me take the next step in my leadership journey”.

Kieron Broadhead, Executive Director of Student Experience, University of Southampton

“The programme was one of the most useful professional development programmes I have ever undertaken.  The insights into what it is like to be at the next level were invaluable and the networking was really useful.  The course was engaging and expertly facilitated. I have made connections which I am certain will support me throughout my whole career”.

Joanne Cooke, Associate Chief Operating Officer and  Executive Director of Student and Academic Services, De Montfort University

The programme was highly valuable with a clear focus on understanding what it means to be a COO/Registrar and how to get there.   The learning set groups were cohesive and excellently facilitated. Two years after finishing the official programme our group of varied participants still meets regularly.  The programme has enabled me to work closely with my line manager and COO as well as being a more efficient member of the University Executive Group”.

Thomas Veit, Director of External Relations, University of Dundee

“I found the programme a fantastic opportunity that prepared me for the role of Registrar and Secretary/COO through meaningful development of my knowledge, skills and behaviours.  It gave me access to high quality expertise and insights that included the course leaders and guest speakers. The programme challenged and supported me as well as providing me with the head-space to reflect and grow outside of my existing ‘day job’.  The peer network that I established became a group of valued and trusted colleagues that still provide support and encouragement, four years on. I highly recommend it”.

Andrea Bolshaw, University Secretary and Registrar, Newman University

And from a University perspective…

“From a University point of view, I feel the programme has helped our participant to reflect and develop as a leader in a way that has led to him being able to make an even more effective strategic contribution to the work of the University Executive Group and has enhanced his capacity to support and deputise for me as Secretary and COO”.

Jim McGeorge, University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer, University of Dundee

Related Resources

Resource Name
Added On
AHUA Development Programmes Brochure
ARCP 2020 Dates and Venues
Terms and Conditions