Controversial statue of Greta Thunberg unveiled at university

Credit: University of Winchester

A statue of Greta Thunberg has divided opinion at a Hampshire university.

The controversial £23,000 bronze figure was unveiled on Tuesday (30 March) at the University of Winchester.

The university says it is a symbol of its "ongoing commitment to sustainability and social justice".

The statue was unveiled at the university on Tuesday

Winchester Student Union said it admired Greta for her "drive and determination" but it "cannot condone the statue unveiling" when there is a "clear cry for help when it comes to improving mental health support and wellbeing services".

The statue is believed to be the world’s first life-size sculpture of the young Swedish climate change activist.

The sculpture was commissioned in 2019 as part of the £50 million West Downs Centre development, the university’s new teaching building.

Professor Joy Carter CBE, Vice-Chancellor, University of Winchester said: "We are aware of some concerns raised about the financing of the statue. The statue was commissioned in 2019 as part of the West Downs project from funds which could only be spent on that building.

"No money was diverted from student support or from staffing to finance the West Downs project.

"Indeed, the University has spent £5.2m this year on student support, processed £382,000 in government hardship funds for students in addition to our own hardship funding, established a new IT access fund of £100,000, grown the teams that support student wellbeing and spent £1.5m additional funding to support teaching, learning and health and safety during the pandemic."

The statue has been placed outside the new West Downs Centre

The university's student union is now calling on the university to "match the statue cost by committing £23,760 in additional funding to student support services across campus".

It added: "We urge them to publicly face the critical issues which students are highlighting and provide a transparent breakdown of additional and existing financial support."  

The University of Winchester declared a climate and ecological emergency in 2019 and aims to be carbon neutral by 2025.