Published: 13 Nov 2018 | Last Updated: 10 Aug 2023 10:45:32

Demonstrating its continuing commitment to gender equality, the RVC has launched the Aurora Leadership Development Programme 2018/19 within the university to help address the under representation of women in senior roles.

The Aurora programme is run by Advance HE (formerly the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education) in partnership with educational institutions to help develop women’s leadership skills so they can advance within their careers.

The RVC has funded eight places on the 2018/19 programme for staff. Programme participants all receive a mentor within the RVC to help guide them along their career path as well as attend workshops that will explore their leadership aspirations and equip them with the tools needed to help get promoted into senior posts.

An overwhelming number of people applied for the RVC-funded places leaving the selection panel with the unenviable task of choosing just eight from a highly talented and committed pool of women. After a tough decision process, the funded places were awarded to the following eight applicants:

  • Dr Camilla Benfield, Lecturer in Virology
  • Dr Grace Mackintosh Sim, Outreach Development Manager
  • Charlotte Dawson, Lecturer in Veterinary Ophthalmology
  • Dr Bettina Dunkel, Senior Lecturer in Equine Medicine
  • Dr Androniki Psifidi, Lecturer in Veterinary Clinical Genetics
  • Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe, Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Welfare
  • Dr Charlotte Lawson, Senior Lecturer
  • Ivana Vasic, Strategic Planning and Risk Analyst

These women will now either participate in the autumn or spring semesters of the Aurora 2018/19 programme. All were invited to attend a launch event along with their mentors at the RVC Hawkshead campus in Potters Bar on the 19th October.

Several RVC female staff members seated round a meeting table
Applicants and their mentors at the Aurora Programme launch at the RVC Hawkshead campus (19 October 2018)

Dr Siobhan Abeyesinghe, Senior Lecturer in Animal Behaviour and Welfare at the RVC and one of the successful applicants, said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to participate in a well-respected leadership programme designed for women in higher education. I am looking forward to developing a more confident voice in representing my team and my institution and becoming a key influencer. I’m also excited to develop more strategic and adaptive leadership skills that will best enable me to proactively interact with new stakeholders and funders, as well as support and guide others in the shifting higher education landscape of today.”

The Aurora programme builds upon the RVC’s continuing work to help women succeed in their careers as shown by the university’s participation in the Athena SWAN Action Plan and Gender Pay Gap Report 2017.

If you have any queries about the Aurora programme or would like to find out more information, please contact Ferhat Nazir-Bhatti, Equality and Diversity Manager,

Notes for Editors

For more information please contact:

About the RVC

  • The Royal Veterinary College (RVC) is the UK's largest and longest established independent veterinary school and is a constituent College of the University of London.
  • The RVC offers undergraduate, postgraduate and CPD programmes in veterinary medicine, veterinary nursing and biological sciences.
  • It is currently the only veterinary school in the world to hold full accreditation from AVMA, EAEVE, RCVS and AVBC.
  • In 2017, the RVC received a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – the highest rating a university can receive.
  • A research-led institution, the RVC maintained its position as the top veterinary institution in the Research Excellence Framework (2014), with 79% of its submission being rated as world-class or internationally excellent.
  • The RVC also provides animal owners and the veterinary profession with access to expert veterinary care and advice through its teaching hospitals: the Beaumont Sainsbury Animal Hospital in central London, the Queen Mother Hospital for Animals (Europe's largest small animal referral centre), the Equine Referral Hospital and the Farm Animal Clinical Centre located at the Hertfordshire campus.

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