Geoffrey Crossick, a former chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council and former warden of Goldsmiths College, said he would leave the part-time role in July 2012 because the workload was more onerous than he expected.
Professor Crossick took up the post in September 2010 after five years at Goldsmiths, replacing Sir Graeme Davies, who had led the University of London since 2003.
As vice-chancellor, he is responsible for the management of services, including careers advice, IT, housing and library facilities provided to the university’s 19 self-governing colleges and 10 specialist institutions.
The part-time role came with an annual salary of £135,000.
The social historian said the position was more time-consuming than he imagined when leaving Goldsmiths, making it hard to “secure the lifestyle benefits I sought through reducing the intensity of my workload”.
“I have been unable to achieve my plans to have more time to take on other roles in public life, above all in the cultural and higher education sectors”, he added, saying he wants to “develop that wider range of public activities”.
“The University of London has a very significant future in the new environment for higher education. I wish to stress that my decision is an entirely personal one and no reflection on the university’s undoubted potential.”
Professor Crossick added that he would work with the university’s chief operating officer and others to further strategic development plans and appoint a successor.