Our Vice-Chancellor's Office

View the full VCO structure chart here.

Professor Philip Plowden 

Professor Philip Plowden joined the university in August 2017, having previously served as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Derby.  Prior to that, Professor Plowden worked for almost 20 years at Northumbria University, where he was Dean of the School of Law.

Professor Plowden graduated with a BA (Hons) in English Literature from the University of Oxford, but then qualified as both a solicitor and barrister.  In practice he specialised in human rights and public law. He maintains close links to legal practice and education and is a member of the Law Society's Education and Training Committee.  He was also a non-executive board member at the Office for Legal Complaints, which manages the Legal Ombudsman scheme. Before entering the legal profession, he worked for the Citizens Advice Bureau Service in London for almost a decade.

In 2005 Professor Plowden was appointed as a National Teaching Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. His research interests are based in criminal law and practice, and in legal education and pedagogic practice. He also has an interest in the field of privacy law and freedom of information. Professor Plowden has been influential in the development of clinical legal education in the UK, and in strengthening an international network of legal clinicians, centring on the ‘International Journal of Clinical Legal Education’, which he edited for many years.  

Outside academic life, Professor Plowden is a huge fan of American Football, as well as a self-confessed geek, with a long-standing interest in genre fiction and computer gaming.

Professor Julian Beer
Deputy Vice-Chancellor

Julian BeerProfessor Julian Beer has an extensive track record in designing, developing and leading flagship programmes, projects and partnerships to unlock capital and revenue and connect innovation and talent, and engage Higher Education as a catalyst for change and growth positioning universities as “anchor” institutions internationally, nationally and in regional economies.

He has founded and led several national and international initiatives such as being one of the founders of the world’s first Centre for Brexit Studies and leads the flagship STEAMHouse (circa £75 million) initiative which places the creative industries alongside Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) in a trans-disciplinary approach. 

Julian has worked with and advised a number of Government departments and agencies, shadow governments or oppositions and non – governmental and private sector organisations and businesses. He has been heavily involved in devolution and economic development at a national and international level and acts as an advisor on Brexit and is a member of many Brexit task groups and boards. He is a non – executive Director and Chairman of several private sector companies and public sector Boards and committees and acts as an advisor to the West Midlands Combined Authority in a number of areas including the Innovation Board. He is a Sector Champion for Emerging Technologies and Innovation Sub - Board member of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, as well as, a CBI Council member for the West Midlands. 

Julian is Professor of Knowledge Transfer at Birmingham City University and an Emeritus Professor at Plymouth University.

Mr David Wilkin BSc CPFA
Chief Finance Officer

David Wilkins 1

David joined Birmingham City University in October 2016 and has strategic leadership responsibility for Finance, IT and Estates & Facilities.

He was previously Director of Resources at West Midlands Police with responsibility for leading the resource strategy through severe funding reductions and achieving an “Outstanding” assessment for Efficiency from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabularies.  He was heavily involved with and led a range of transformational change programmes and was also the National Policing Lead for police vehicle procurement and standardisation.  During his time with the Force he led a project on developing the national Police Objective Analysis costing model, which won technical recognition through CIPFA’s Sir Harry Page Merit Award.

Prior to that, David worked as Head of Education Finance for Leicester City Council. He had responsibility for all financial matters in the Education Department, including the local financial management arrangements for over 100 schools. Before this he worked as an accountant for Warwickshire Police and Coventry City Council, where he qualified as a Chartered Public Finance Accountant.

Miss Karen Stephenson LLB, Solicitor, MA
University Secretary

Karen Stephenson

Karen Stephenson joined Birmingham City University in June 2016, as University Secretary.

As University Secretary Karen is responsible for all matters of governance, and legal and statutory compliance. She is also Clerk to the Board of Governors and Company Secretary to a number of subsidiary companies.  The post has line management for the Governance Team, the Legal & Compliance Team including Equality Diversity & Inclusion, Insurance and DPA/FoI, and the UKVI Team. Karen also has institutional responsibility for compliance with the Prevent Duty, along with being the University lead for University Strategy, the OFS (Office for Students), Business Continuity and Student Mental Health.

Karen is a qualified solicitor with particular expertise in higher education corporate governance and all issues that arise out of the institutional relationship with students.

Immediately prior to joining the University, Karen spent seven years as an external legal adviser in private practice advising a number of HEIs on issues involving corporate governance, strategic management (including faculty, department and course restructuring) and Board matters. She also advised on all aspects of the student/university relationship and management of complex student litigation. 

Prior to that she spent 15 years at London South Bank University; nine years as the University Secretary and Principal Solicitor and the previous six years as an Academic Lecturer in Law. 

Karen is the sub-editor for the higher and further education section of the Education Law Journal writing regularly on strategic management issues.

Karen is a member of the Law Society and AHUA (the Association of Heads of University Administration).