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Slovenian institution in collaboration with Advance HE to develop staff leadership skills

01 Dec 2020 | Advance HE Advance HE delivers two Leadership Development Programmes to staff at the University of Ljubljana with a third planned for December.

Staff at the University of Ljubljana are currently completing the second of three Leadership Development Programmes, delivered by Advance HE. The university identified leadership development and capacity building as a key strategic priority for 2020 and engaged Advance HE to design and deliver a programme of CPD aimed at supporting academic staff to acquire and develop key leadership attributes.

The programme was designed to support colleagues at the university with the emphasis of the programme focused on future leadership, reinforcing Advance HE’s belief that leadership can be demonstrated at any level and is value-driven not hierarchical in nature. The programme was designed for those working in leadership positions across the institution, including Heads of Departments, Deans, Assistant Deans and Programme leaders.

During the programme participants shared their experiences of being a leader and the particular challenges that they face in their roles. They developed a shared understanding of the crucial knowledge, skills and experiences that characterise effective and successful leadership, specifically with a focus on their context, whilst also acquiring skills not usually found in academic development programmes. Participants also explored different leadership models and were encouraged to think about how they might be applied to different situations.

Advance HE’s trainer, Christine Smith, who was familiar with the university’s context commented: “My approach was to introduce theories and concepts, as well as practical ideas during the sessions and then encourage the participants to action plan so they can put into practice what they have learnt, whether that be leading a team or supporting departmental change.

"Throughout the programme I ensured a certain degree of flexibility so I could be responsive to the previous days’ feedback or simply allow time for participants to share any success stories or reflect on changes they had made to their practice as a result of the learning.”

Indeed, originally planned to be delivered face to face, the global pandemic meant that Christine had to repurpose the programme for online delivery and the results have been hugely successful: with the programme covering the same breadth and depth of content as the face-to-face version, Christine employed a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous delivery, including live recordings and using approaches that model best practice.

Having strong and confident leaders is more important than ever in the rapidly changing world we now live in and this programme was designed to supporting universities to develop a shared understanding of what makes agile and resilient leaders, capable of delivering change. Advance HE offers a range of bespoke consultancy and development programmes online and feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive.

A spokesperson from the university said: “The University of Ljubljana is striving for quality assurance in all fields of its work. We are aware that it is important to equip member faculty management staff and study programme leaders with necessary skills to be able to successfully manage various projects and tackle challenges as they arise.

"We believe that with tailored workshop programme designed by Advance HE, they will be able to carry out their responsibilities more systematically and with more confidence.”

Kristian Rumble, International Partnerships Manager at Advance HE said: “Having effective leaders throughout an institution is vitally important at this difficult time. The University of Ljubljana identified leadership skills as a key area for development and we are delighted that they chose to work with Advance HE to deliver those skills to staff.

“We firmly believe that leadership development is a journey and a vital pre-requisite to an organisation's success. This collaboration is further evidence of our commitment to supporting strategic leaders in higher education across the globe.”

The programme has had some fantastic feedback from the participants with Assistant Professor Dr. Franc Dimc, Vice-Dean for Academic Affairs, Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport, particularly appreciating the networking opportunities. He said: “The workshop was very useful because I am now able to perceive problems more easily and also react to them better, maybe more lastingly. I am grateful to the organizers for a new network of like-minded people and companions with similar challenges.”

Associate Professor Dr. Katja Lozar Manfreda, Vice-Dean for Student Affairs, Faculty of Social Sciences said: “I would like to thank Advance HE for the workshop. I’ve learned to think differently regarding the way I should work especially around planning, with much more attentiveness to my leadership role and hopefully this will bring better results.”

The University of Ljubljana is the oldest and largest higher education and scientific research institution in Slovenia. It was founded in 1919 and is social and natural sciences and technical study programmes. It is consistently ranked in the top 3% of universities in the world and is home to approximately 38,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.


Enhancing Programme Leadership is an online programme designed to develop the skills and capabilities of leaders of teaching and learning in their institution at a time when they may be new to leadership, or looking to gain confidence in their leadership skills. The programme starts on 14 January 2021, find out more and book your place here.


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