Recruiting tomorrow’s higher education leaders

Paul Greatrix introduces the "Ambitious Futures" programme for graduates interested in university leadership as a career.
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Recruitment for the 2017 round of Ambitious Futures, the Graduate Programme for University Leadership, is open until January 2018. Ambitious Futures is the graduate programme which takes the development of high quality future leaders for higher education very seriously. It invests in participants’ career development, offers exposure to a range of interesting business areas and work cultures, and provides the foundation for future leadership roles in universities. It’s a route worth considering for those who aspire to higher ed wonkery.

Graduates are employed by a host university (this may be the university from which they’ve graduated) and take part in an 18-month programme split into three placements. The first and last of these will be based at the host university, while the middle placement is at a different partner institution.

The type of work trainees are involved in is often project-based and wide-ranging, offering many diverse and challenging opportunities. We aim for trainees to complete a variety of different projects in a fairly short space of time, and in many cases they are able to see the results of their work being implemented across the university.

Career building

Some of our amazing Ambitious Futures trainees at the celebration event

It really is a fantastic scheme and I was privileged recently to be at a celebration event for the latest successful cohort of Ambitious Futures trainees to complete their programmes. Held at the Royal Institution this was an opportunity to mark the achievement of trainees but also to learn from them about how to improve the programme. Programme directors and sponsors from participating universities were also present to celebrate the progress made and to hear about the new jobs which trainees had successfully secured.

So, if you are thinking about building a career in higher education, then you may want to consider the Ambitious Futures option:

The university sector is one of the most innovative, vibrant and exciting environments in which to build your future career. If you’re looking for a graduate programme that leads to a highly successful and dynamic career in an entrepreneurial, global business, The Graduate Programme for University Leadership is it.

Are you ready for a career in a world of discovery?

This cutting-edge programme will show you how the challenging and stimulating business of a university operates. You’ll meet some of the most talented people in the country, if not the world, and gain an inside view into the sector’s management and business processes. A key aspect of your training will see you working alongside a diverse range of partners, from students and employers to funding bodies and commercial organisations.

As one of our previous trainees puts it:

The thing I have enjoyed most about being a Graduate Trainee on the Ambitious Futures programme is the responsibility I have had over my projects. My first placement was in School of Physics & Astronomy and provided me with the opportunity to make key decisions and to take projects in the direction that I thought best. This has all happened in a ‘safe’ environment as I have a lot of support from my managers to try out new ideas and try to come up with creative solutions. I feel like my opinions have weight and I have been encouraged to take ownership of projects.
Nduka Amadi, Nottingham Graduate Trainee

The sector really does need to train and develop many more professional service leaders and this programme will be a major contributor to that as it continues to grow. Our sector also needs and will benefit from greater diversity in its leadership and this too is something all of us involved are keen for Ambitious Futures to nurture and support.

Here are the details

  • Closing Date for Applications: 19 January 2018
  • Start Date: 5 September 2018
  • Eligibility: You must have graduated (undergraduate or postgraduate degree) with a 2.1 since July 2013. Some universities will only accept applications from their own graduates, others are open to applications from any university. You must be eligible to work in the UK for the length of the programme.
  • Degree required: Any
  • Salary: Starting salary of £21,800 – £27,700 (depending on institution and as at August 2017)
  • Benefits: A sector-specific leadership programme, high-quality training and one years’ membership of the Association of University Administrators (AUA).

You can find much more detail about the scheme and apply on the Ambitious Futures site.

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