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Last Updated:  Tuesday, 25 February, 2003, 17:13 GMT
Mystery candidate enters chancellor race
Chris Patten, Lord Bingham, Sandi Toksvig and Lord Neill
Clockwise from left: Patten, Bingham, Toksvig and Neill
Five people have put their names forward for one of the most prestigious posts in academia.

Candidates for the post of Chancellor of Oxford University had until 1600 GMT on Tuesday to apply ahead of elections on the 14 and 15 of March.

Four candidates had been confirmed before Tuesday: The former Governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, Lord Bingham of Cornhill, broadcaster and writer Sandi Toksvig and former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life Lord Neill of Bladen QC.

A university spokeswoman said a fifth person had entered the race just hours before the deadline but said their name would not be confirmed until their application was checked.

Top-up fees

She did verify that the mystery candidate was not former US President Bill Clinton who had been rumoured to be interested in the post.

She said the legitimacy of the fifth application had to be checked.

"There are a number of vetting procedures, including checking the names of the 50 Oxford graduates on the nominations, which can take a little time," the spokeswoman said.

University top-up fees seem set to be one of the central issues of the election.

Entering the race on Monday, Ms Toksvig said fees were "contrary to the British principle that education should be available to all students on merit".

Cambridge graduate

Lord Bingham has expressed his support for fees, but the Oxford University Student Union, led by Will Straw, son of the Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, has produced an anti-fees "pledge" for candidates to sign.

Undergraduates are not allowed to vote and as a Cambridge graduate Ms Toksvig could struggle against three former Oxonians.

Mr Patten, 58, and Lord Bingham, 69, are both alumni of Balliol College and the former Lord Chief Justice has been High Steward of Oxford since 2001.

An Oxford University spokeswoman said the nominations would not be published in the university gazette until Friday.

Toksvig enters chancellor race
24 Feb 03 |  Education

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