EDINBURGH University principal and vice-chancellor Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea today announced that he will step down next year.
Prof O’Shea took up the post in 2002 and has overseen over a significant period of expansion for Scotland’s biggest university.
During his time in office, the institution has regularly been ranked as one of the top 25 universities in the world and is currently ranked fourth in Britain for the quality of its research.
Prof O’Shea, 67, said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh and I am extremely proud of what we as an institution have achieved over recent years.
“The success and growth that we have enjoyed have only been possible thanks to our very gifted students and highly talented staff, as well as the tremendous backing we’ve received from our alumni, supporters and friends across Scotland, the wider UK and the world.
“I have every confidence that the university will continue to go from strength to strength in the years to come.”
Prof O’Shea’s period in charge was today hailed by students, who said the university had made “significant progress in widening access” on his watch.
Alec Edgecliffe-Johnson, president of Edinburgh University Students’ Association, said: “Under Prof O’Shea’s leadership, the university has made significant progress in widening access to world-class education, delivering an increasingly diverse student population here at Edinburgh.
“I look forward to continuing to work with him on this and other student priorities over the coming year.”
Prof O’Shea, who was knighted by the Queen at Holyrood in 2008, will formally step down in September 2017 and the university said it would shortly begin the recruitment process for his successor.
Holyrood education secretary John Swinney said: “The quality of Scottish universities is crucially important to perceptions of Scotland around the world.
“Under Sir Tim’s leadership, the University of Edinburgh has built on its reputation as one of the world’s great universities and is widely regarded as a powerhouse of ideas and innovation across the breadth of academic endeavour, bringing distinction and talent to Scotland.”
Former Edinburgh MP Gavin Strang added: “Prof O’Shea has made a significant contribution to Edinburgh University becoming a centre of excellence for science.
“His successor will have a hard act to follow.”