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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 10:13 GMT
Patten named new Oxford chancellor
Chris Patten
EU commissioner won vote among graduates
Chris Patten has been named the new chancellor of Oxford University.

The 58-year-old European Union commissioner beat off a strong challenge from senior judge Lord Bingham to win the election for the coveted post.

More than 8,000 Oxford graduates and academics voted on Friday and Saturday, with comedian Sandi Toksvig and former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, Lord Neill, also running.

In the final round of counting Mr Patten received 4,203 votes, 1,720 more than Lord Bingham.

'Profound honour'

He said: "Oxford is one of the greatest universities in the world.

"It has played a distinguished part in the history of our country and our continent, and has much to contribute to our success and our well-being as a civilised community in the future.

"It is an honour, more profound than I can easily describe, to be asked to help the university deal with the challenges of the next few years, to advocate and stand up for its interests at home and abroad."

The election was dominated by the issue of university tuition fees, even though undergraduates were not allowed to take part.

The new chancellor will certainly be expected to use their influence in the critical political debate on higher education

Mr Patten will be installed as chancellor at a ceremony which will probably be held in tandem with the honorary degree presentation known as Encaenia on June 25.

He replaces former Home Secretary Lord Jenkins of Hillhead, who had been chancellor for more than 15 years when he died in January.

The election was run on a single transferable vote system, under which second, third and fourth choices were taken into a account.

The chancellorship, largely a ceremonial post, is unpaid but carries great status.

Since 1999 Mr Patten has been European Union Commissioner for External Affairs.

Before that, he had been Conservative Party chairman and MP for Bath, then governor of Hong Kong during the handover of the colony to China.

A Balliol College graduate, he met his wife Lavender at Oxford.

Mr Patten has been chancellor of Newcastle University since 1999, but has insisted it will not affect his commitment to Oxford.

The BBC's Mike Baker
"This is a rare election - only the third in seventy years"

Toksvig enters chancellor race
24 Feb 03 |  Education

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