Lord Patten made the comments in response to a government white paper outlining plans for a "transparency revolution" where institutions reveal how those from ethnic and minority backgrounds fair in the application process.
Patten told the Telegraph: “I am in favour of universities recognising their responsibilities for promoting social inclusion but I don’t think that if you want high class universities you should expect them to lower their standards in order to make up for some inadequacies in our secondary education system."
He continued: "I don’t support quotas at universities. Nobody will explain to me how you can make a system of quotas work while retaining the highest admissions standards.
"Quotas must mean lower standards. There are better ways of addressing social inclusion at universities."
When asked what Lord Patten would suggest in place of quotas, an Oxford University spokesperson said they could not answer.
Nobody will explain to me how you can make a system of quotas work while retaining the highest admissions standards Lord Patten
In January, David Cameron singled out Oxford for criticism after accepting just 27 black students in a single year.
He accused Oxford, where he was an undergraduate, of "not doing enough to attract talent from across our country".
Oxford noted that 13% of its undergraduates were from black or ethnic minority backgrounds, compared with around 18% at other Russell Group universities.
The university has around 22,300 students on its roll.
Patten is the former chair of the BBC Trust and acts as ceremonial head of Oxford in his role as chancellor.
A veteran of the Conservative Party, the former MP rose from researcher to chairman of the party during Margaret Thatcher's leadership.
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