WINCHESTER university’s student union has condemned the unveiling of the Greta Thunberg statue next week.

The Chronicle revealed on Monday that the sculpture of the Swedish activist is costing the university £23,760.

Now the Student Union (SU) has said that while it celebrates her work it is not able to support the unveiling of the bronze.

Members have criticised the university’s decision in the wake of redundancies, library cuts and limitation of provisions.

President Megan Ball; vice president, education and welfare Victoria Hurley; and vice president, activities Ellen O'Dwyer have released a joint statement.

They said: “The year in which this artistic piece is being delivered is one that has seen unimaginable financial impacts. Students have seen staff redundancies, library cuts and limitation of provisions. They are being charged full tuition fees for an academic year that is anything but normal. There is a crippling mental health crisis amongst students, and wellbeing services are crying out for additional support. In our view, the unveiling of this statue next week shows that these issues are not their priorities.

“We appreciate that the statue was commissioned in 2019 as a part of the wider West Downs building budget; we acknowledge that this was not repurposed from other budgets such as those for mental health or Student Services. However, £23,760 is a considerable amount of money for a statue that the Student Union had no input or say.”

The union has urged the university to “consider the timing and impact of this unveiling, at such an unprecedented period for student wellbeing; students should have the opportunity to see where the cost of the statue has, or will, be matched for wellbeing provision”.

The body has also asked the university to acknowledge students’ views and opinions, which is “total dissatisfaction in the timing and cost of this statue”.

Criticism of the statue and its cost has also come from the institution’s branch of the University and College Union (UCU) who raised concerns over a lack of transparency in the decision-making process.

Winchester University’s UCU has said it believes the statue is a “vanity project by the outgoing vice chancellor” Joy Carter.

In a motion the branch said that it “notes that this has come after several years of austerity by the University of Winchester that have witness jobs cuts, increased workloads and attempts to extend casualisation.”

It adds that it believes the money could have better spent on preventing redundancies and other cuts across the university.

The motions continues: “This branch therefore censures the outgoing VC over their lack of transparency in decision making.

“Fully supports Winchester SU’s statement regarding the statue of Greta Thunberg.

“Calls on the university to ensure that all future decisions on artworks across campus are transparent.”

A university 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."

Christine Charlesworth is the artist behind this sculpture of Greta Thunberg, who propelled into the national media when she began the school climate strikes 2018.