Rory Stewart has responded after it emerged he was the front-runner to become Oxford University's next chancellor.

The former politician, who also hosts The Rest is Politics podcast with former Labour Party spin doctor Alastair Campbell, studied history and philosophy, politics and economics at Balliol College.

Speculation stirred after Lord Patten of Barnes, the former Conservative party chairman, announced his intentions to retire from the role.

Lord Patten of Barnes will have held the role for more than two decades at the end of this academic year, after which, voting for the role will be held online for the first time.

According to Oxford University’s website, the role of chancellor is the ceremonial head of the university, who is “usually an eminent public figure elected for life” and “presides over all major ceremonies”.

William Hill opened betting on Oxford’s next chancellor on Wednesday, naming Mr Stewart, who served as international development secretary under Theresa May, as the front-runner.

Responding to the speculation, Mr Stewart said: “This is a very interesting idea and an amazing role, but I would have to think hard about whether I am the right candidate.”

Mr Stewart recently joined Yale University in Connecticut as a professor in the practice of grand strategy.

A serving don told The Telegraph he would expect senior lawyers to be selected as candidates who have contributed significantly to public life.

“They need to have the stature to do the job as well as people skills,” he said.

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Odds for the Oxford Chancellor job:

Lee Phelps, of William Hill, said: “There are a couple of quite obvious-looking options for the Oxford Chancellor job following Chris Patten’s resignation, not least Rory Stewart, who tops the early betting at 5/6.

“Theresa May probably has about the right CV too. She’s a former PM with fairly moderate Conservative views and looks Stewart’s main rival in the race at 7/4.

“Fellow former leaders Sir Tony Blair and Boris Johnson could be in the shake-up and can be backed at 4/1 and 13/2, respectively.”