In November, Swansea suspended vice-chancellor Richard Davies, who was scheduled to step down at the end of the current academic year. Marc Clement, dean of the university’s management school, and two other staff members, were also suspended at the same time.
The suspensions appear to have been linked to concerns over plans to build a £200 million Wellness Village at Llanelli, part of the £1.3 billion Swansea Bay City Deal.
It is thought Swansea subsequently offered the vice-chancellor’s post to Alison Jones, deputy vice-chancellor (health and communities) of the University of Wollongong in New South Wales. However, she then turned down the job, according to reports.
Roger Jones, Swansea’s chair of council, said Professor Boyle “has agreed to become vice-chancellor following the planned retirement of Professor Richard Davies at the end of the current academic year”.
Professor Boyle “brings a wealth of experience at the highest level, with his achievements in Leicester including increased research funding and citations, investment in student experience and championing equality and diversity”, he added.
A Swansea spokeswoman said there was no start date for Professor Boyle as yet.
Professor Boyle, who started his academic career at Swansea and is a former chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, joined Leicester in October 2014.
He said his decision to leave had been “an incredibly difficult one”. The “university and the city of Leicester will always be very special for me and my family”, he added.
“So much has been achieved at Swansea in recent years, including the campus, growth in student numbers, and a rise in some important rankings,” Professor Boyle also said. “I look forward to working with staff and students to build on this success.
“More personally, it is wonderful to be returning to the university where I began my academic career and, having grown up on the east coast, I am looking forward to being back by the sea.”
Bridget Towle, chair of council at Leicester, said: “Since his arrival, Professor Boyle has worked hard to achieve significant progress in a number of key areas. There has been increased investment in our student experience and he has driven our research success.
“His campaigning for equality and inclusivity and the delivery of a vision for Space Park Leicester are a testament to his leadership. I am sure that everyone in our community will join me in giving Paul their best wishes as he embarks on the next phase of his career.”
In a 10-page grievance letter to the Swansea University council, Professor Davies had said that the Wellness Village project took up 75 per cent of the “column centimetres” in the suspension letter that he received, with the rest detailing allegations that he “failed to assure appropriate due diligence, governance and systems of control around major projects and commercial activities of the university”.
He accused the university registrar of trying to “seize the position of vice-chancellor” and said that the university council has been “negligent in permitting this manifestly unfair concentration of power in the hands of one person”.