The principal of the University of Edinburgh, Sir Tim O’Shea, is to step down next year.
Sir Tim will leave the institution in September 2017, after a 15-year term.
He said that he had “every confidence” that the institution would “continue to go from strength to strength in the years to come”.
“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,” Sir Tim said.
Under his leadership, Edinburgh has maintained its pre-eminent reputation for research excellence, securing 24th place in the most recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
The institution also became a pioneer of online learning, becoming the first university in the UK to offer a massive open online course. Since 2013, 2.5 million students have accessed Edinburgh courses for free via the internet.
John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister and education secretary, paid tribute to Sir Tim.
“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,” the minister said.
Edinburgh said that it would begin the recruitment process for Sir Tim’s successor shortly.
The vacancy is the second prestigious academic role to become available in Scotland in recent times, with Sally Mapstone, currently pro vice-chancellor for education at the University of Oxford, due to become principal of the University of St Andrews in September. Louise Richardson, St Andrews’ former principal, left to become Oxford’s new vice-chancellor.