The Aspiring Registrar and COO Programme


The Aspiring Registrar and COO Programme 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 take place in 2025.  The application process will open in Autumn 2024.

If you would like to take part in the next Programme, please complete this form to submit your interest.

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 both newly appointed and more experienced AHUA members (COOs, Registrars, University Secretaries), as well as a Vice Chancellor and Chair of Council, to provide a rounded view of what to expect in these roles;
  • 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 7.5 days over 12 months. It begins with an introductory meeting with all participants, followed by 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 of the 2023 Programme

  • Welcome session: online. Wednesday 22 January 2025, 14.00 – 16.00.
  • One-to-one session: a two-hour session online, w/c 24 February 2025, times to be agreed.
  • Residential programme: in person, at the Edgbaston Park Hotel and Conference Centre. Tuesday 25 March, 13.00 to Thursday 27 March, 16.00. Overnight accommodation and dinners will be booked for participants.
  • Four action learning sets in-person, hosted by participants, each with dinner the night before. Host locations to be decided during the Residential programme:
    • Wednesday 30 April, 9.00 – 16.00, Location TBA.
    • Wednesday 25 June, 9.00 – 16.00, Location TBA.
    • Wednesday 10 September, 9.00 – 16.00, Location TBA.
    • Wednesday 12 November, 9.00 – 16.00, Location TBA.
    • Please note that dinner and accommodation prior to learning set meetings are not covered by the Programme fee and must be paid for by participants separately.
  • Workshop: in person, London. Wednesday 14 January 2026, 9.00 – 16.00, with dinner the night before (dinner to be paid for by participants).
  • One-to-one session: a two-hour session online, w/c 26 January 2026, times to be agreed.

Programme Fee

£5,750 for AHUA member institutions; £6,750 for non-member institutions.

The AHUA is VAT exempt so no VAT will be added to the above.

How To Apply

The deadline for applications has now closed.  Applicants will need to provide:

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

Please note that entry to the Programme is on a competitive basis.

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
ARCP Programme Brochure
Terms and Conditions