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Oxford students: Chris Patten needs to devote time to being our Chancellor

14 November 2012

3:54 PM

14 November 2012

3:54 PM

As students at Oxford University, we are told repeatedly by tutors, proctors, and the Chancellor himself that we’re not allowed to do much outside our degree. We cannot do more than eight hours of paid work a week, and extracurricular activities are monitored carefully by colleges, who can revoke your right to do them at any time. Any major positions at the student union or Oxford Union require you to take a year out. And, as we can vouch for, taking on an editorship of a student newspaper isn’t exactly welcomed by teaching staff.

We’ve handed (nearly) all our essays in on time; but Lord Patten has arguably spread himself a bit too thin, taking on another significant appointment at the BBC commanding a salary of £110,000 a year, in addition to holding other remunerated positions listed in the House of Lords’ register of interests.


Despite the fact that Patten’s post at Oxford is largely ceremonial; a catastrophe elsewhere can result in neglect. Given that the BBC is currently facing its biggest crisis in living memory, the call for Patten’s attention and time has suddenly increased. And therefore one can only assume that his level of activity in the administration of the university has flatlined from little to nothing. Oxford deserves a head, even if only a figurehead, who will work for its benefit at all times.

Recent events at the BBC show that those at the top of even seemingly rock-solid establishments can never let their attention slip: the accountability for disturbances under their watch still rests with them. The point isn’t that Patten has taken multiple jobs or that these may present a conflict of interest; it’s the fact that, like the Queen, the Oxford Chancellor doesn’t need to do that much – he just needs to be there.

Grace Goddard and Barbara Speed are Editors of Cherwell, a student newspaper at Oxford University.

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Show comments
  • David

    “Extracurricular activities are monitored carefully by colleges, who can revoke your right to do them at any time.” Where do you go? Merton? This is certainly not the case at my college…

  • Peter Martin

    🙂 However, given the good Lord’s awesome record when on the case, maybe they have been spared by his inattention?

  • TomTom

    The election of Chancellor of Oxford University is fraudulent with only those physically present in Oxford can vote rather than London University which has postal ballots. The London sponsors who bussed Patten supporters into Oxford to vote to get him into place whilst he was also Chancellor at Newcastle University revealed the triumph of political chicanery over principle. Patten has no academic pretensions unlike Harold Macmillan or Roy Jenkins – he was simply a time-serving politician collecting his rewards as a Placeman-Courtier. Oxford University lacks self-respect and has failed miserably to honour those that deserve respect but has fawned over those that are politically connected or moneyed, and this Alumnus is disgusted.

  • 2trueblue

    Your last sentence shows how little you know about the Queens duties. It is much more than ‘being there’. She has also never let us down. Look at her schedule this year. She turned up and did her job despite her husband being unwell on several occasions.

    Patten is obviously past his sell by date, and certainly not capable of his role at the BBC.

  • don logan

    Chris Patten needs to devote more time to sorting out the various P45s he so richly deserves to recieve.

  • commentator

    Telemachus, I’m intrigued. I agree about Patten’s lifetime of public service….or should I say public self-service. He has more sinecures than Sir Chris Hoy has Olympic golds. But as for his apparent excellence as Oxford Chancellor, it is a largely honorific role in which he has been mainly invisible ….although no doubt more than willing to park his well-upholstered frame at High Table.

    • telemachus

      The point is he is a charismatic leader both in Oxford and at the BBC
      He spoke at my daughter’s graduation in Newcastle and it was the most motivating speech I have heard

      • EJ

        So he can string two words together – big bloody deal. See post above.

        • telemachus

          I did read the bile in your post above
          I recommend senna
          As to Patten, he is a big man able to field the political gravity of the situation
          The fact that Redwood seems to want shut of him is perhaps all we need to know to attest to his fitness to stay

          • Noa

            The very fact that the voice of neo-stalinism speaks in favour of this bloated sponger condemns Cameron’s judgement both in appointing him and allowing him to remain.

          • Mike

            Patten has the ability to understand what the government of of the days requires: he is an excellent courtier . His report on the RUC was just what Blair wanted in order to obtain the supportof the IRA and his back benchers of irish descent.
            Patten would have made an excellent cardinal of the late Middle Ages to mid 18 century in Spain, France and Italy: other parts of Europe would have been too poor for his refined tastes. .

      • TomTom

        Glad to hear your daughter is now motivated……

  • Archimedes

    Awww – how touching! God-Speed!

  • Vulture

    One thing your otherwise excellent education seems to have left you deficient in mesdames is a crap detector.

    Patten is a turd. Of the purest variety. His previous career – fake Tory, anti-Thatcher plotter, John Major sidekick, Hong Kong handover, destroyer of the RUC, EU kommissar, BBC chair, has been marked by his smears of failure as he has crawled along. Ask yourselves what the creep has done to get all the well-paid sinecures that seem to fall so easily into his fat belly. I’m a Cambridge person myself, but even I don’t know what Oxford has done to deserve this appalling s**t. Not sure how you get rid of a Chancellor in Oxford, but public evisceration at the Martyr’s memorial would be one way. I suggest that Cherwell starts a campaign.

    • telemachus

      Typical crap from a thicko banished to the fens.

      Sorry vulture that you descend from the folks that wrongly hanged 2 clerks
      It is not too late to apologise
      Patten is a first class Chancellor of both Oxford and Newcastle. He brings a lifetime of public service(you say yourself he was an anti-Thatcher plotter and that is recommendation enough) to both roles and to the BBC. He cross fertilises his media and academic roles excellently.
      I think most of us were very happy to see this giant at the helm when the second Newsnight slip occurred.
      The Newsnight sagas in the scheme of things is small beer and it needs the like of a Patten to keep the politicians at bay-as he indicated promptly to the secretary of state after the first slip
      He needs to stay in his academic roles to show he will not be pushed around

      • salieri

        “He cross fertilises his media and academic roles excellently.” Typo? I think you meant just “fertilises”.

      • Vulture

        Fat Pong, as the Sun so wittily describes him has TEN part-time jobs raking him in hundreds of thousands in addition to his BBC role. If you really think this does not stink, your moral compass ( as well as your brain cells) has gone AWOL. IT is indefensible corruption and POng must remove his stain from our life.

        • telemachus

          Patten was never meant to have any Beeb exec role
          He is a figure head for their regulator
          It is fortunate we are to have such a man who is willing to take on a role over and above to save the Beeb from Redwood and co
          Listen to Harmans wise words

        • Amergin Selby

          If you think ‘Fat Pong’ is witty then you are a worthy Sun reader. I agree ten jobs is really OTT. BTW

      • Noa

        “I think most of us were very happy to see this giant at the helm when the second Newsnight slip occurred…”
        comrade. your gift for self parody is one of your most unintentionally humourous traits.

        • telemachus

          As your UKIP/porn colleague is fond of saying truth is truth

          • Noa

            A shame then that you are a stranger to it.

    • EJ

      Vulture sums it up perfectly. Fatty Pang is a self-obsessed guzzling turd of the highest order. He’s gotten away with it for years and now he’s been found out he will cling on for dear life. Just like the rest of these contemptuous, trough-snuffling parasites – whether it’s those who lord it over us from Brussels or those who plant their well-fed arses on the benches at Westminster.

    • Colonel Mustard

      One of several cuckoos in the Tory nest. He said the BBC fiasco was the saddest moment in his life so the tears he shed as he watched the communists march into our jewel in the East must have been crocodile.

  • commentator

    When Fat Pang stood for election to the post of Chancellor, I made sure that I voted for someone else (the late Lord Bingham). The current fiasco does not surprise me: for years Patten has been a professional collector of sinecures, not least during the Blair years when he willingly functioned as Tony’s Tethered Tory. His judgment is woeful, his workrate sedate but his appetite for public sector pay and perks is seemingly insatiable.