PgCert in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership

The AUA Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) is a self-directed, independent, work-based learning programme for higher education professionals working within UK higher education administration.

Key information

Programme duration: 12 months
Programme mode: Self-directed, blended, part-time, work based learning
Entry requirements: Applicants may be accepted without an UG degree. Please see details below.
Programme fee: £2,675
Next intake start: April 2020

The programme deepens and tests your knowledge and understanding of the HE sector whilst enhancing your skills as a reflective practitioner, incorporating the AUA values and CPD Framework of Professional Behaviours into your working life.

The programme aims

The programme will:

  • Engage you in a process of planned professional development, based on reflection and self-assessment of your approach and performance in professional contexts
  • Develop your understanding and critical awareness of current issues in the sector, through independent learning and research
  • Develop your understanding of leadership and management in the context of HE
  • Enhance your professional practice through critical appraisal of, and reflection on, your knowledge, skills, behaviours and values
  • Develop your reflective skills enabling you to apply your knowledge and understanding to evaluate and analyse your practice and experiences

Programme overview

Structure and assessment

The programme is self-directed and delivered as blended learning via an online workspace and contact days, known as study days.

The structure

The programme is delivered over 12 months. During this time you will study two modules with study days staged throughout the programme alongside the assessments. You are supported by three mandatory study days and an online workspace. You will be assigned an AUA mentor who is a HE professional and works at a UK HE institution or within the sector.

The modules

There are two compulsory level 7 modules that make up the 60 credit PgCert award. These are masters level credits that can be used towards a final MSc award through Nottingham Trent University. These two modules run concurrently over the 12 month period. You must successfully complete both in order to achieve the full award, but credits are awarded for any successful module completion.

The assessment formats below may be subject to review and change but will provide you with a guide of the expectations whilst on the programme:

Higher Education in Context module* (30 credits)
Formative assessment to aid development
2,000 word – literature review
3,000 word – knowledge assignment

Professional Practice in Higher Education module* (30 credits)
Formative assessment to aid development
2,000 word professional planning assignment
3,000 word assignment reflective assignment with a supporting portfolio of evidence
*assessment formats may be subject to change

More information on the programme structure, expectations of study and the content is available in our prospectus.

Cohorts and study days

There are two intakes per academic year in October and April.

We operate a waiting list system if we’re over-subscribed and recommend that you apply as early as possible to avoid disappointment.

April 2020: Cohort PGC64

Study day 1 –  29 April 2020 NTU, Nottingham
Study day 2 – 8 July 2020, NTU, Nottingham
Study day 3 – 25 November 2020, NTU, Nottingham


Programme fee for 2019/20 academic year

£2,675 (includes membership of the AUA for two years, existing members will have their membership extended by two years)


The full programme fee will be invoiced 30 days before the first study day (date of registration).

Where applicants are self-funding fees can be paid in instalments but 50% of the fee must be paid before the first study day.

See arrangements must be confirmed at the point of accepting your offer of a place. Please refer to the AUA payment terms and conditions for more information. Invoices can be raised to you, your employer or a third party.

If you would like your fees to be invoiced earlier than the 30 days or need any more information about payment options, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Entry requirements

Due to the nature of the study and assessment for the programme, in order to be eligible for admission to the programme applicants will usually:

a) hold a UK or Republic of Ireland first degree (or equivalent) and
b) have at least 6 months’ experience of working in the higher education sector, preferably at a higher education institution, in an administrative or managerial capacity; and
c) hold a current position within the UK or Republic of Ireland HE sector in an administrative or managerial capacity.

If you do not have an undergraduate degree

Applicants who do not hold a first degree may be admitted to the programme if they can demonstrate their ability to succeed at level 7 study by:

a) holding a current position within the UK or Republic of Ireland HE sector in an administrative or managerial capacity; and
b) having at least 12 months’ experience of working in the HE sector in an administrative or managerial capacity; and/or
c) holding comparable professional qualifications

If English is not your first language

Applicants whose first language is not English must be competent in written and spoken English up to the following standard: IELTS 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in reading and writing) or TOEFL iBT 83 with at least: Reading 18, Listening 17, Speaking 20, Writing 17.

If applicants do not meet the language entry requirements, they will be directed to the English for Academic Purposes (EAP) course provided by Nottingham Language Centre prior to the start of the programme. A range of language courses are available.

All applications are considered on an individual basis.  Your personal statement, supporting professional reference, qualifications and experience are all taken into account.

The entry requirements are in place to help ensure that you have the experience and background knowledge of the sector to enable you to succeed on the programme. If you are unsure of your suitability, please contact the PgCert team.

If you are not based in the UK or ROI

The programme is based on the UK higher education sector and therefore only eligible for applicants who live and work in the UK or ROI.  Unfortunately it is not possible for anyone outside the UK or ROI to apply. It is a requirement to be a member of the AUA throughout your registration on the programme.  Applications are open to non-members. Please note, the fee includes two years’ AUA membership so membership will be automatically applied at the point of registration.

How to apply

You will need:

  • A completed application form which includes a 250 – 500 word personal statement on why you’re applying.
  • A reference from someone who can comment on your suitability for the programme – this is likely to be from your current line manager and should be submitted on letter headed paper at the point of applying.

We recommend that you read the prospectus before you start your application so you understand what the programme entails and the expectations of a self-directed, independent learner.  We also bring your attention to our payment terms and conditions.

Application process

We consider and accept applications in the order that we receive them.  Applications will close when the cohort is full or six weeks before the first study day.  You will need confirmation of funding at the point of accepting your offer of a place on the programme. We are unable to consider applications until a full application has been received which includes a reference. If you have any queries regarding this process please contact the PgCert Team.
Provided that all required documents are included the outcome of your application will normally be confirmed within 10 working days of receipt.  If your application is successful, we’ll send you an offer and payment schedule form.

As the programme is run collaboratively with Nottingham Trent University, you will be enrolled as a student with NTU and are able to obtain a student ID card.

The AUA is committed to providing equal opportunities for all members.   We are committed to providing equality of opportunity through the best possible level of support to disabled applicants.  You can contact the Programme Manager to discuss any specific needs.

Contact us

For further information on the PgCert programme please contact us.

Tel: +44 (0)161 275 2063 Email:

PgCert award ceremony at the AUA Annual Conference

Further study

For further information on progression routes after the PgCert visit NTU’s website or contact NTU’s Executive Education and Corporate Relations Team on +44 (0)115 848 8139, or via email:

Stage 1 – PgCert in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership. Delivered by AUA in partnership with NTU
(60 level 7 credits)

Stage 2 – PgDip in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership
(60 level 7 credits, a cumulative total of 120 credits)

Stage 3 – MSc in Higher Education Administration, Management and Leadership
(60 level 7 credits, a cumulative total of 180 credits)


I don’t have an undergraduate degree – can I still apply?

The standard entry requirements are an undergraduate degree and experience of working in the higher education (HE) sector, preferably at a higher education institution (HEI). If you’ve been working within the HE sector for many years but do not have an undergraduate degree then it may be that you meet the entry criteria. All applications are considered on an individual basis; taking your personal statement and supporting professional reference into account as well as your qualifications and experience. If you’re unsure as to your suitability for the programme, please contact us for further information.

Is there any preparation I can do before Study Day 1?

Yes, we have some recommended pre-reading which will help you brush up on your study skills and provide you with some background reading.

Please visit our Pre-course reading page for further information.

I’m new to the HE sector, do you think this programme is suitable?

As part of our entry requirements we ask that applicants have an undergraduate degree and a minimum of six months’ experience working in a professional services role within the UK HE sector. This is to ensure that students have a working base knowledge and understanding of the sector in order to succeed on the programme. Obviously, the longer you have been working in the sector the more experience and knowledge you have to draw on. The programme hasn’t been designed as an introduction to the sector – you may find our ‘Intro to HE’ event useful instead. Through the assessments and your independent study, the PgCert should test your existing knowledge and deepen your understanding of the higher education sector.

Do all the places get filled?

We have two cohorts (intakes) per academic year in October and April/May. Our most popular intake is October, which often becomes full prior to the closing date. When this happens, we operate a waiting list on a ‘first come, first served’ basis in case any candidate withdraws their place on the programme prior to the start date. For this reason, we recommend that applications are submitted as early as possible during your preferred cohort application period.

When do applications close?

Applications normally close six weeks before the first study day or when all the places on the programme have been filled.

Can my institution pay my fees before the end of this financial year?

Yes. If you would like your fees to be invoiced earlier than one month before the first study day, please contact us to make arrangements.

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