Common Purpose

Common Purpose Frontrunner is our programme designed to support the leadership development of third-level students.

Upcoming student programmes

Common Purpose courses for student leaders

Programme Start date Audience

Common Purpose Frontrunner is for third-level students who have a track record of leading change.

Through the programme, students can set their sights even higher as they look ahead beyond full-time education. 

Participants visit a wide range of organizations and quiz leaders from many different walks of life. This gives future generations of leaders a rare opportunity to broaden their knowledge, plan their future and develop their leadership skills.

Azriel Lu, Student, 3U Partnership

“The programme was fantastic! You will meet diverse group of people, make new friends, and connections. You will gain understanding of power shifts in society. The experience will prepare you for work with other people in collaborative, respectful relationships. The reflections afterwards can make you more aware on diversity in society and among your peers.”

Who is it for?

Frontrunner is aimed at third level student leaders who have already shown evidence of leadership skills in society through their activities. The programme aims to inspire them to continue producing real change both while still in full time education and in their future careers.

Participants on this programme come from a range of different academic backgrounds and colleges and universities. A typical programme may include students in leadership positions in their students’ union or those involved in sports clubs and societies, peer mentors, student volunteers, class representatives and students who have taken on a leadership position on their campus or in their community without having a formal leadership role.

All of Common Purpose's leadership programmes are deliberately diverse and each participant brings his or her own perspective on the issues and contributes to the breadth of the overall experience. Participants frequently comment that they learn as much from each other as they do from the programme itself.

Why Common Purpose Frontrunner?

Frontrunner is a dynamic and fast-moving learning experience. Participants on the programmes benefit from a unique opportunity to develop a network of leaders among their own peers, visit innovative organisations and meet with people who are leading real change in Dublin.

The programme takes place out of the traditional educational setting in venues that reflect the themes that are covered.

Participants have the opportunity to:

  • Gain greater knowledge of how power works and how change is brought about.
  • Have first-hand insight into real-life organisational challenges and the individuals who lead them.
  • Develop self-awareness, understanding of leadership concepts and practical skills to aid future careers and activities.
  • Become part of a diverse network with other young leaders who are also active in civil society and the wider Common Purpose network.
  • Establish how they can have a continuing impact on society and not lose their passion and openness towards positive change.
  • Develop critical and analytical skills, questioning the world around them and coming up with solutions to real-world problems over the duration of the programme.

Participants develop to become high potential leaders who are able to significantly raise their game as potential leaders, both within their own campuses and in society as a whole.

Gillian Mangan , Student, Portobello Institute

“My confidence in myself, my speaking and my future career have developed greatly thanks to this programme. I’ve developed a better way of communicating, through public speaking, debating, listening and having new challenges. You meet all sorts of different peers and leaders and influences on the programme. You get to understand people more and get great advice on leadership skills, job opportunities and how to work with different companies from the voluntary, private and public sectors”.

Programme Format and Location


The intensive four-day programme occurs over the course of two weeks. Each day covers a different key issue through programme agendas designed to reflect current themes.

On the programme, participants will go on visits to businesses, institutions and organizations to get a behind-the-scenes perspective on an organization and sector. They will also deal with real-life leadership dilemmas and learn from the experiences of leaders from all sectors of society.

Participants will be challenged personally through diversity exercises and being part of a learning group with whom they'll share, connect, and be held accountable throughout the process.


Frontrunner programmes are held at different times through out the year and are open programmes engaging a number of third-level institutions throughout Ireland.

For more information on upcoming programmes and how to apply, contact the Common Purpose team in DUblin (01) 872 9322 or email

Impact: on Individuals

Donut Chart

94% of students say our programmes have helped them develop as leaders
93% say they are better able to Lead Beyond Authority
94% say they have clarified their purpose
96% say they have grown their Cultural Intelligence

Donut Chart

96% of students say our programmes have helped them gain broader networks
96% say they are better able to build relationships 
96% say their ability to spot connections has improved 
96% say they are better able to work in collaboration 

Donut Chart

95% of students say our programmes have helped them make better decisions
93% say they are better able to thrive in complexity 
97% say they are better able to widen context
95% say their ability to confront bias has improved

Donut Chart

95% of students say our programmes have enabled them to drive bold innovation
92% say they are able to think the unthinkable
96% say they are better able to leverage diversity 
96% say their ability to move to action has improved 

Applying to the programme

How to apply

Please get in touch using the online enquiries form or call 01 872 9322 if you wish to reserve places on the March 2019 Frontrunner programme.

Colleges and universities can reserve places prior to confirming the names of the students they wish to nominate, and the Common Purpose team will be happy to answer any questions and provide any information you might need about the programme.

We recommend that participants are selected from a pool of students already showing leadership potential in their college or university e.g. – Students’ Union, clubs and societies, peer mentors, student volunteers, sports, class representatives etc.

Having been nominated by their college or university, each student also needs to return a completed application form to Common Purpose.

What does it cost to attend Frontrunner?

Each college or university can nominate up to five participants, and the fee per participant is €200. This fee includes all meals, transportation on programme days, refreshments, and materials.

Applicants who cannot pay the full fee should not be deterred from applying. If you would like to be considered for a bursary, please fill in the section of the application form for bursary candidates. For guidance or information, please contact us.

Frontrunner Graduate, Alumnus, St. John's Central College

"I have learnt not to be shy or afraid to talk within a group, I learnt about the diversity of leadership and about how personalities can change my view on different issues. I have gained more self-awareness that will help me get to the place that I want to be. This programme is a fantastic way to open your mind to leadership and different personalities."