THE North's top university has appointed a new leader.

Durham University's new and 24th vice-chancellor and warden will be Professor Stuart Corbridge, currently deputy director and provost at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

He will take up the post on September 1, succeeding Prof Chris Higgins, who retired last September.

Prof Ray Hudson will continue as acting vice-chancellor until then.

Prof Corbridge said it was a pleasure and honour to be appointed.

"Durham is a very special university. Its colleges, history, stunning buildings and excellence on two sites (Durham and Stockton) make it a wonderful place to study and work.

"The university also contributes very significant to the life of North East England," he added.

Prof Corbridge is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Society of Arts and his interests include geopolitics and governance.

Robert Gillespie, chair of the university's governing council, said he was an exceptional candidate with a good depth and breadth of leadership and management experience.

Prof Craig Calhoun, director of LSE, said it was enormously proud Prof Corbridge had been chosen for the Durham role, although saddened at his departure.

The unexpected announcement of Prof Higgins' retirement, aged 59, came days after the university's senate tried to cut his powers by removing him as its chairman and amid a row over an internal review student leaders claimed was putting Durham's world-renowned collegiate system at risk.