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Last Updated:  Saturday, 8 March, 2003, 17:07 GMT
Statements released in chancellor race
Chris Patten, Lord Bingham, Sandi Toksvig and Lord Neill
Clockwise from left: Patten, Bingham, Toksvig and Neill
In their campaign statements the four candidates to be the next Chancellor of Oxford University have put top-up fees at the heart of the election issues.

The one-page statements, which appear in the university gazette, are seen as a summary of the candidates' beliefs and policies.

The candidates are Chris Patten, the EU external affairs commissioner; Lord Bingham, the senior law lord; Lord Neill, the former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life; and broadcaster and writer Sandi Toksvig.

Elections are due to take place on the 14 and 15 March.

These are critical times and Oxford needs to take a lead with a progressive rethink
Sandi Toksvig
Lord Neill said he opposed top-up fees for undergraduates but in his statement he preferred to concentrate on his connections with Oxford, including his "strong commitment to university autonomy and to high academic standards" during his four-year tenure as its vice-chancellor.

Lord Bingham, 69, says Oxford is at a "critical point", needing urgent steps to prevent it from falling behind the eminent and wealthy American universities.

"Many of the very best scholars and scientists in the world are leaving Oxford; and they are doing so reluctantly, for reasons not only of better pay but, more importantly, of better research environments," he writes.

However Lord Bingham's statement does not mention the controversial issue of student top-up fees, which he has publicly backed.

'Excessive price'

Mr Patten's statement setting out his case to replace Lord Jenkins of Hillhead as Chancellor said he could not oppose tuition fees "root and branch".

They may have to be accepted so long as there was not an "excessive price" in terms of government interference with Oxford's admission policy, he said.

Ms Toksvig, 44, is the only one to pledge her opposition to top-up fees in her statement, suggesting instead that funds should be raised from taxation.

"These are critical times and Oxford needs to take a lead with a progressive rethink," the Cambridge graduate said.

Toksvig enters chancellor race
24 Feb 03 |  Education

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