The Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University has confirmed his retirement from the role after six years.
Professor Philip Plowden will depart in December having overseen a period of growth which has seen student numbers rise from 24,575 in 2017/18 to 31,341 in 2022/23.
He said he was proud to have led a “unique and special institution”.
“It has been a real privilege to lead BCU, and this decision has not been an easy one,” Professor Plowden said.
“I have always said that BCU is a unique and special institution – there is no other quite like it – and I am as proud to be Vice-Chancellor of BCU now as I was when I took on the honour in August 2017.
“While it will come as a huge wrench for me to leave this position, the timing feels right. We have achieved many of the aspirations set out in our 2025 Strategy and as we now look increasingly to our new strategic ambitions, for 2030 and beyond, it makes sense for someone else to steer that process from an early stage.”
Professor Plowden’s period as Vice-Chancellor has seen the university secure a range of awards, including the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in recognition of its School of Jewellery’s proud history of innovation spanning 130 years.
BCU also won a THE Award for Research Project of the Year, and another as Higher Education Provider of the Year award at the 2022 Education Awards.
Professor Plowden has overseen a number of major expansions of BCU facilities, both in the UK and globally, including the opening in October 2022 of the new £70million STEAMhouse building, offering support to companies of all sizes to boost growth through innovation to address commercial and societal challenges.
The STEAMhouse concept was expanded internationally in April 2022, with the opening of the first phase of the Munjal Birmingham Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (MBCIE) in India. This partnership between BCU and India’s motorbike and cycle manufacturing giant, Hero Group, will drive innovation across the State of Punjab.
A £3.5million redevelopment of a skills and training hub for healthcare students at BCU’s City South Campus was completed in December 2022, providing state-of-the art facilities to give students hands-on, practical training.
The University’s Board of Governors will now commence the process of recruiting a new Vice-Chancellor over the coming months.
Mark Hopton, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Birmingham City University’s Board of Governors, said: “I know the entire University community will want to join me in thanking Philip for his leadership during his time as Vice-Chancellor at BCU.
The passion, ambition, vision and focus he has brought to the role has seen BCU continue to build on its 180-year history, growing and expanding even in the face of the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, which he navigated with tireless energy.
Mark Hopton, Pro-Chancellor and Chairman of Birmingham City University’s Board of Governors
“Philip has successfully led BCU in its vision and mission of not only transforming the lives of its diverse community of students – many of whom are first in their family to go to university – but also that of wider society, stretching beyond the confines of our campuses.
“It is business as usual for the months ahead but we look forward to properly marking and celebrating Philip’s many accomplishments before he departs later in the year.”