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Oxford college wants to remove Rhodes statue

Oriel College in Oxford has announced that it wants the controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes to be taken down.

The governors of the Oxford University college voted on Wednesday to remove the statue of the colonialist.

Campaigners have called for the statue to be taken down – saying it was a symbol of imperialism and racism.

The removal is not expected to be immediate – as the college says there will need to be consultations over planning regulations.

The governors said the decision had been reached “after a thoughtful period of debate and reflection” – and in “full awareness of the impact these decisions are likely to have in Britain and around the world”.

Oriel College is to launch an “independent commission of inquiry” into the legacy of Cecil Rhodes, which also includes scholarships at the university.

The commission, to be headed by Carole Souter, will also consider wider issues, such as support for black and ethnic minority students and a commitment to “diversity”.

The fate of the statue has divided opinion.

Earlier on Wednesday the universities minister had spoken against calls to remove the statue.

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Michelle Donelan said it would be “short sighted” to try to “rewrite our history” – and rejected attempts to “censor or edit” the past.

“I want to be really clear that racism is abhorrent and shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in our society, and that includes universities,” she told a Higher Education Policy Institute event.

Ms Donelan said she was opposed to the renaming of buildings named after the 19th Century statesman, William Gladstone, or the removal of the Rhodes statue.

Protesters in Oxford, in the Rhodes Must Fall campaign, have called for the statue to be taken down, saying that it represented imperialist values that were no longer acceptable.

But last week the vice chancellor of Oxford University, Louise Richardson, warned against “hiding” history, rather than confronting the values held by people in the past.

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