Home U.K Greta Thunberg statue sparks outrage after university splurges £24,000 as 'staff are...

Greta Thunberg statue sparks outrage after university splurges £24,000 as 'staff are cut'

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Greta Thunberg slams EU for ‘giving up’ on climate change

The University of Winchester, in Hampshire, unveiled the statue this week after commissioning it in 2019. The university said “no money was diverted” from student support or staffing for the project, but the students’ union said the funds could have been spent on more important issues. President of Winchester Student Union Megan Ball said she thought the Swedish climate change activist was a “fantastic role model to everyone, as someone who speaks loudly and proudly about important global issues”.

However, she added the union could not support the sculpture.

Ms Ball said: “We’re in a Covid year, lots of students haven’t really had access to campus, lots of them are trying to study online and are in dire need of support.

“We are calling on the university to match the statue cost by committing £23,760 in additional funding to student support services across campus.

“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 sparked outrage after spending £24,000 on the statue

The University of Winchester sparked outrage after spending £24,000 on the statue (Image: PA)

Speaking to Sky News, she added the university was facing cuts, redundancies and a student mental health crisis due to the year-long pandemic.

Ms Ball said: “The statue was commissioned in 2019, however since then there have been library cuts, two staff redundancy schemes and there is also a mental health crisis among students.

“We have urged the university to consider the timing of the unveiling and to pause it; students are angry and frustrated.”

Winchester University and College Union (UCU) also passed a motion describing the statue as “vanity project”.

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Greta was described as

Greta was described as “fantastic role model” despite backlash over the statue (Image: PA)

People were quick to criticise the amount of money spent on the statue on social media.

Brexiteer Darren Grimes blasted the “horrific” amount of money spent when students were barely on campus to see it despite spending thousands of pounds in fees.

He wrote on Twitter: “£24,000 on a statue of Greta Thunberg in a year in which students spending over £9,000 have hardly seen their university campuses.

“What a horrific waste of money.”

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Brexiteer Darren Grimes blasted the

Darren Grimes blasted the “horrific” amount of money spent when students were barely on campus (Image: PA)

Another social media user added: “If my children were at that university I would refuse to pay their fees.”

A third person also said: “Why not save 24k and have an empty plinth?”

And a fourth person simply said: “What a complete waste of money.”

The statue was funded by money that was allocated to the construction of the £50 million West Downs Centre development, which is where it was unveiled.

The university said

The university said “no money was diverted” from student support or staffing (Image: GETTY)

The university said it wanted to have the statue installed ahead of the UK hosting the UN’s climate change conference, COP26.

The university’s vice-chancellor, Professor Joy Carter, said: “No money was diverted from student support or from staffing to finance the West Downs project.

“Indeed, the university has spent £5.2 million this year on student support.”

She added: “Greta is a young woman who, in spite of difficulties in her life, has become a world-leading environmental activist. As the university for sustainability and social justice, we are proud to honour this inspirational woman in this way.

The university said it wanted to have the statue installed ahead of the UK hosting COP26

The university said it wanted to have the statue installed ahead of the UK hosting COP26 (Image: PA)

“We know that many find her a controversial figure. As a university we welcome debate and critical conversations.

“We hope that her statue will help to inspire our community, reminding us that no matter what life throws at us we can still change the world for the better. That is a message we want all our students and all young people to hear.”

In an email to students about the piece, the university also added the aim was for the statue to become a symbol of its “commitment to combat the climate and ecological emergency.”

A University of Winchester spokesperson said: “Winchester Student Union and the Winchester branch of the Universities and Colleges Union have outlined their concerns around the University’s commission of the sculpture of Greta Thunberg.

“We are looking at those and welcome the engagement from both WSU and UCU on the issues raised.”



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