Geoffrey Copland will become the new rector of the University of Westminster on January 1 1996, when Terence Burlin, retires.
Dr Copland, who joined the university in 1987 when it was the Polytechnic of Central London, is the deputy rector. The university used an external recruitment consultancy in its search for a new head.
Personnel professional Sir Leonard Peach, who is chairman of the university's court of governors, explained that recruitment consultants allowed a "fair and open" way of filling top posts in a market that "has become pretty competitive", although this is the first time that Westminster has used this procedure.
In all 140 applications were sifted to give an interview panel the choice of seven academics and three industrialists and civil servants. It was then narrowed down to two candidates, who had to give a presentation to the court of governors, and Dr Copland was chosen.
As deputy rector, Dr Copland was responsible for overseeing the controversial Pounds 40 million redevelopment of the university's Harrow campus, where approximately a quarter of the teaching will take place. The campus has a strong focus on media, communications, design and information technology.