Deans' Development Programme (DDP)

Deans' Development Programme (DDP)

Deans' Development Programme

Building the experience of senior colleagues to confront institutional challenges with confidence

The role of Dean is one which carries a wide range of meanings and contexts in different institutions. Deans often face the competing challenges of providing operational leadership to both academic and professional colleagues while also being asked to support the development of institutional strategy (and respond to an ever-increasing range of external challenges). The Deans' Development Programme is designed to confront these challenges, allowing participants both to discuss their own institution’s approaches (within a discrete and supportive environment) and to develop their understanding of their role. The programme recognises the role of Deans as senior academics, and managers of significant financial and human resources; individual sessions will focus on the core aspects of the role, building in the experience of senior colleagues from many different backgrounds, who are able to reflect upon their experience and to engage participants in self-reflection and debate.

The programme will build a community of peers from across the sector which will be supported by an online community of practice allowing participants to share experiences and challenges between residential sessions and after the completion of the programme. The programme will be focused upon both the conceptual and practical aspects of maintaining a senior leadership role in a higher education environment.

PILOT PROGRAMME OFFER: Book two places on the programme and receive one half price for those from the same institution.

Participant outcomes

  1. Personal development, increased self-awareness and enhanced personal resilience
  2. Development of an enhanced understanding of the challenges of senior leadership in higher education
  3. Development of strategic and operational planning skills
  4. Development of team-working and collaborative practice
  5. Opportunity to work within a strong peer network 
  6. Access to senior colleagues with a wide experience of higher education
  7. Practical development of problem-solving skills

Employer outcomes

  1. Development of colleagues as senior leaders and role models within their own institutions 
  2. Input into strategic and operational development at institutional level
  3. Project working focused on specific institutional scenarios
  4. Investment in an effective and transparent record of professional development and supporting the creation of a cadre of HEA Senior/Principal Fellows

For more course information or to get started enquire now below.

Cloth Hall Court, Leeds
Event Schedule
Wednesday, 2 May, 2018 - 11:00
Professional Learning Curve Level
Event Duration
19 weeks
Price Details
Choose your institution from the list below.
Nation / Region
Fellowship category
Event Type

For course information or to get started

More about this course

The programme will be delivered across four sessions, and will be supported by inspirational and pragmatic speakers including senior HE leaders, service directors and Deans. Participants will be able to engage with and develop problem-solving skills using a variety of scenarios based around real-world issues happening at a fictitious university.

There will be opportunities for small group discussion and team-building as a part of the activity and it is expected that the programme will form a ‘cohort identity’ which will lead to cross-institutional mentoring and peer support and some shared activity.

The programme will gain distinctiveness (and add value) from other, more general, ‘leadership’ courses in:

  • a focus on the practicalities of the role;
  • the development of action-learning sets which provide peer support and mentoring within the group; 
  • a focus on the challenges of leadership within the overall context of the university – with Deans often ‘sandwiched’ between the top-level strategy and the bottom-up operation aspects of day-to-day management; 
  • a focus on the practical enhancement of the student and staff experience. 

"The Deans’ Development Programme will be focused upon both the conceptual and practical aspects of maintaining a senior leadership role in a higher education environment. Deans will have a multitude of differing routes into their roles (and the concept of what a Dean is will vary considerably between institutions) and the programme needs to be sensitive to their backgrounds and common (and individual) circumstances.” 

Professor Phil Cardew, Deputy Vice Chancellor, Leeds Beckett University – Programme Director

Programme Content

Module 1 - The role of the Dean

The overall aim of this two-day residential is to provide participants with an opportunity to reflect on their current experience and role, recognising this within the context of the overall programme (where some participants will be within the role of dean, and others aspiring to, or preparing for, that role). Participants will explore and discuss the nature of the role, within the wider context of senior management at University level; the challenges of academic leadership; practical aspects of self-management, and the management of others, and consider positive interventions. Prior to the module, participants will have engaged in a 360˚ feedback exercise, the results of which will form a context for their thinking, and will feed into the personal development aspects of the programme, in its later stages.

Module 2 - Strategy and operation 

This session will open up discussion around the challenges a Dean will face within the day-to-day activities. During the two days we will cover the various aspects of process and operation with which Deans are perpetually faced (academic planning, quality, human and physical resourcing, budgets) but also consider how these fit into the specific context of the Deanery – with its focus not only through a particular operational unit (be that faculty, school or college) but also across an institution. This will enable discussion of strategic planning, and how the ‘dual facing’ role of the Dean operates here, influencing University-wide strategy, but also formulating their own sub-strategies and accompanying operational plans.

Participants will be asked to explore their role within institutional procedures and, most importantly, how their role (or future role) might influence the development of practice and its enhancement at an institutional level. 

Module 3 - Personal development

This, one day, module, allows for a period of reflection, through individual sessions (either face-to-face, or via Skype) relating to Module 1 (which will have put colleagues’ personal challenges into context) and feedback from the 360° exercise. At the same time, for those that feel this to be useful, we will be conducting a writing workshop focused on reaching the next stage of the Professional Standards Framework.

Module 4 - The external environment – challenges and opportunities 

Deans need to understand the developing landscape of higher education, generally, and to be able to determine its impact, institutionally (and within the specific academic focus that is their personal concern). This session, which will change to accommodate new developments as they arise (HE and Research Bill, OfS, TEF – institutional and subject-level, etc) and will consider the implications of legislation and policy developments in UK higher education, their impact, institutionally and on a subject basis, and ways in which Deans might wish to develop their own professional practice to best enable them to accommodate the impact of developments.

The second day will provide an opportunity for reflection and feedback, with participants reviewing the thoughts presented in the first module and considering the extent to which their perceptions have changed (or remained firmly fixed) through the discussion within the programme. This session will also provide a point of reflection for participants, sharing and reviewing progress and self-development from the beginning of the course.  and pausing for thought over next steps in personal and career development.


Venue Address
Cloth Hall Court, Leeds, LS1 2HT

Programme dates

Module 1: The role of the Dean 2-3 May 2018
Module 2: Strategy and operation 6-7 June 2018
Module 3: Personal development 11 July 2018
Module 4: The external environment 12-13 September 2018


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