University appoints new Vice-Chancellor


Professor David Mba has been appointed as the new Vice-Chancellor of Birmingham City University, pledging to put the student experience at the centre of ambitious plans for 2030 and beyond.

Joining BCU from the University of the Arts London (UAL), where he is Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Research, Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise, Professor Mba will take up his new role on 1 October, replacing Professor Philip Plowden who is retiring after six years at the helm.

Commenting on his appointment, Professor Mba said: “I am incredibly excited by the opportunity to take on the leadership of BCU at a pivotal moment for the University, as we begin work to define – and then deliver – our significant ambitions for the next decade. BCU has grown hugely in recent years, in a city which itself has been transformed, providing a powerful base from which we can accelerate towards 2030.

“My priority will be to ensure that everything we do focuses on unleashing the potential of our students, ensuring a consistent focus on their experience, alongside recognising, celebrating and further developing the talent of our staff. By getting that right, we will also meet the needs of the regional and national economy, something that BCU – as a powerful civic University – is uniquely placed to deliver.”

Professor Mba’s appointment was welcomed by both the University’s new Chair of the Board of Governors, Anita Bhalla, and BCU’s Chancellor, Sir Lenny Henry.

Ms Bhalla (OBE), who oversaw the appointment, said: “I am delighted to have secured such an outstanding talent to lead Birmingham City University in the years ahead. David brings a wealth of experience and expertise, as well as a determination to build on BCU’s many successes with a razor-sharp focus on ensuring our students have every opportunity to achieve everything they aspire to for themselves.

“There is a great deal to do to ensure we achieve BCU’s fullest potential and David takes on a university that achieved a huge amount under the leadership of Professor Philip Plowden. I want to thank Philip for his enormous work over the past six years, during which time BCU’s student community grew from 23,000 to 31,000, and the University has become an ever more powerful presence in our city and further afield.” 

Sir Lenny Henry, the celebrated actor, writer and activist, who has been BCU’s Chancellor since November 2016, said: “David’s appointment as Vice-Chancellor is a very welcome development for BCU’s talented and diverse community. It is a huge role at an ambitious and growing institution, and David will bring to it his track record in advocating for social justice – including on the Hamilton Commission and the Stephen Lawrence Day Foundation – as well as his own personal insight into ensuring diversity means opportunity and success for everyone who comes through our door.

“I look forward to working closely with him and the new Chair of the Board of Governors, Anita Bhalla, in sharing BCU’s unique qualities with the widest possible audience.”

Prior to his role at UAL, Professor Mba held senior leadership posts at Cranfield University, London South Bank University and De Montfort University, where he held Pro-Vice-Chancellor positions. 

A Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, as well as a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, he is a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and has led numerous commercial and publicly funded research projects, culminating in over 300 journal and conference publications.

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