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The University of Oxford has been accused of attempting to “stitch up” the election of its next chancellor after it said it would begin vetting which candidates can stand.

Under new rules that take effect in April, the names of those vying to take over from Lord Patten of Barnes will be considered by a newly-created “chancellor’s election committee” that will “determine which candidates are eligible to progress to the next stage of the election process”.

The committee, which will include Oxford’s vice-chancellor Irene Tracey and representatives from the university’s council and congregation, will have “due regard to the principles of equality and diversity and the approved role specification”, it was announced in the Oxford Gazette on 21 March.

Accusing the university of a “stitch up”, former government minister Neil O’Brien says the change in voting procedures represents a shift to an “EDI-style process of eastern bloc-style ‘managed democracy’ in which a small group will choose who (if anyone) will be allowed to go forward for ‘election’”.

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