Professor Boyle, who has led the ESRC since 2010, will take over on 1 October from Sir Robert Burgess, who is retiring. Professor Boyle is also president of Science Europe and champions international strategy at the research councils.
He was previously head of the School of Geography and Geosciences at the University of St Andrews.
The chair of Leicester’s governing council, Bridget Towle, said: “This is a splendid appointment and a real coup for Leicester. Professor Boyle has a distinguished academic record and has demonstrated great leadership on the national and international stage.”
She said the institution had been impressed by the “depth” of Professor Boyle’s insights into the strategic issues facing the university and his “lucid analysis” of the current higher education environment.
Professor Boyle said: “It is a privilege to be moving to a university that is delivering distinctive, world-leading research and education and I am excited by the opportunity to help shape these ambitions in a period of change in higher education.”