The Ukraine Higher Education Leadership Development Programme was an innovative project aimed at fostering leadership culture in the national higher education. The programme was a combination of series of learning modules delivered by leading trainers from the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (UK), an opportunity to visit a British partner university as well as practising leadership skills by working on an institutional change project.

The British Council had been implementing the Programme from 2016 to 2019 in partnership with the Institute of Higher Education of the NAES of Ukraine and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (UK), supported by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine.

The Programme participants were university teams comprised of 7 team members each. These teams worked together on an innovative change project for the university’s development. University teams included senior/middle managerial staff (rector/pro-rector and head(s) of department), administrative and academic staff, and student representative. Each team member was responsible for a certain strand of the change project, took an active part in the team work and made a valuable input into its success.

The Programme required that the university team followed the “5+2” learning format: 5 team members took part in the “Team Leadership” component, while 2 team members were participants of the “Young Leaders” component.

“Team Leadership” component

Through interactive training sessions, assignments and models, participants of the “Team Leadership” component learned about the following principles and approaches to effective team work and communication:

  • Building effective teams
  • Roles distribution in a team; team profile and dynamics
  • Modelling approaches to collaboration and participation
  • Communication styles
  • Creative thinking in a team work.

Participants of the “Team Leadership” component that represented the same university worked as one effective team and had collective responsibility for completing the team assignments. Each university team had to include a rector/pro-rector and a student. Developing a horizontal format of communication in a team between rector/vice-rector, university staff and student is one of the key requirements for participation in the Programme and a required instrument for implementing effective institutional changes.

“Young Leaders” component

Participants of the “Young Leaders” component shaped their own identity as a leader, developed their personal leadership potential, and worked out an authentic approach to leading change based on the following practical skills and knowledge obtained through the Programme:

  • Balance between leadership and management
  • Leadership styles 
  • Ways of persuasion and influence 
  • Steering team dynamics
  • Managing stress
  • Effective leadership principles during period of change.

The “Team Leadership” and “Young Leaders” components had been designed in such a way so as to familiarise the participants with the concepts of the team and individual leadership, which complemented each other and were essential for managing effective institutional change project and enabling a quality transformation at the university in general.

Aiming to support implementation of their change project and in order to disseminate skills and knowledge gained through the Programme, the university team (7 members) organised a series of dissemination events at their university/town/region/country level.

As part of the Programme, university teams had an opportunity to visit a UK partner university, provided that a UK university confirmed its support for implementing a change project.

Taking part in the Programme was also a wonderful opportunity to:

  • analyse and develop your personal leadership potential 
  • define priority directions for personal and professional development
  • change your thinking styles
  • increase your personal effectiveness as a professional, team member and leader
  • improve communication 
  • form an effective institutional team
  • initiate and discuss implementation of a change project in a comfortable learning environment and creative space
  • establish professional and personal contacts with participants from all over Ukraine, Programme facilitators and trainers. 

By the end of 2019, the following outcomes were delivered:

  • A national cohort of «change agents» – well-equipped specialists ready to implement  innovation changes in their higher education institutions
  • Systems for dissemination, networking and sharing effective leadership practice of higher education leadership development
  • Effective implementation of leadership development by change agents in the system of higher education or a separate university through recognition of their status and improved achievement indicators of the university
  • Universities’ updated strategies are clear about the university’s role and responsibility in terms of expanded autonomy 
  • A number of Ukrainian academic partnership visits to the UK.