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South and City College Principal honoured with MBE

South & City College Birmingham is delighted that Principal, Mike Hopkins has been appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2021 for Services to Education.

Mike has dedicated his career to improving the lives of students across Birmingham and beyond.

He was born in inner-city Birmingham and went to school and university in the City. He became the Principal of South Birmingham College (SBC) in 2007, prior to which he was the Vice-Principal for 3 years. SBC took over a failing college (City College) to become South and City College Birmingham in 2011, saving 331 jobs and safeguarding the future of 14,000 students. In 2017 the College took over another financially troubled college (Bournville College), securing 266 jobs and allowing 12,500 students to reach their full potential. Mike’s inspirational leadership and relentless determination have transformed an underperforming college into one of the biggest and consistently top-performing inner-city colleges in the country.

He’s fully committed to serving the needs of local communities and supportive of the regional skills agenda. He has worked with the West Midlands Combined Authority to secure millions of pounds worth of funding to provide construction training to unemployed people across the region and recently invested over £2 million in a new Engineering Centre and a National Express Training Academy, in direct response to the region’s skills priorities. Mike has even opened a dedicated school to allow 70 pupils from Baverstock School, which faced closure in 2017, to continue their education. This has continued as a successful academy for 14-16 year old students.

Mike’s knowledge, experience and achievements in the sector have led to him being invited to contribute to various strategic and advisory boards in the City and beyond, where he selflessly volunteers his time, including Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership, Birmingham Prevent Board, Corporate Social Responsibility City Board etc. Mike has been a prolific ambassador and fundraiser for various charities, having raised over £300,000 for good causes, including Teenage Cancer Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support, Help Harry Help Others, Promise Dreams etc. For example, in support of the College’s nominated charity Cure Leukaemia, he is part of a team cycling the full Tour de France one week ahead of the race to raise over £1 million. He also personally mentors aspiring students and local business leaders, freely given his time and access to college resources.

Since the coronavirus lockdown, South and City College Birmingham, under Mike’s leadership, has gone above and beyond to support its students, staff and the local community.

During lockdown, the most vulnerable students continued to receive weekly bursary payments and free school meals payments. The College issued over 900 laptops and phones to students and staff to enable them to carry on working from home. Hundreds of classes took place daily and those students who had no access to the internet were sent monthly packs to enable them to continue to access their education.

Mike said “It was a real surprise to receive an MBE and something I had never expected. I feel very humbled and honoured as I have never sought any such personal recognition, I have simply done the best I can throughout my career. My focus has always been on our students and staff and my recognition is really a recognition of what our staff and students have done. They are the reason I have it and need to take much of the credit and I am immensely grateful to them. I firmly believe that students are at the heart of everything we do and our staff consistently go above and beyond to ensure their success.

We have grown to be the largest College in the region because of what we do and what we give to Birmingham and there is still a lot to do especially with the aftermath of the Pandemic. I hope my award will give greater recognition to the College for the future.”