Oxford University has dropped plans to vet possible chancellor candidates.

Senior ministers accused the process of a “stitch up” that would prevent another white male politician from getting the job.

In a significant U-turn, the university will announce on Thursday that university officials will no longer be able to potentially disqualify chancellor candidates.

Spectator columnist Toby Young previously called these officials a "self-appointed group of guardians" involved in the process.

The process of electing a new chancellor by members of the University's convocation - which is about 350,000 people - will be held online for the first time.

Chris Patten, Lord Patten of Barnes, announced his intentions to retire from the role in February. The former Conservative party chairman has held the position since March 2003.

Oxford denies the new rules amount to a change in policy, saying the changes merely remove “any ambiguity” from the election process.

According to Oxford University, 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”.

O’Brien, who led opposition to the original plan, described Oxford’s move as a “welcome victory for common sense”.

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He told The Times: “Universities have been drifting towards too many poorly thought out equality and diversity policies. I am glad on this occasion there has been a rethink.”

The university said: “Through the proposed amendment to the regulations, the university council’s intent is to remove any ambiguity and reinforce the intent of the original regulation that the election committee will have no role in the vetting or selection of any nominations for chancellor.

"Our requirement to comply with the public sector equality duty remains unchanged.”

Those who have been mentioned as possible successors to Patten include the Oxford graduates Sir Tony Blair and Theresa May, who is stepping down from parliament at the next election