STUDENTS at Oxford University are calling for a century-old statue to be removed from a college building over claims it is offensive.

The group Rhodes Must Fall Oxford says the statue of Cecil Rhodes, the former mining magnate and politician in South Africa, at Oriel College is symbolic of racism and colonialism.

Rhodes was Prime Minister of the Cape of Good Hope, known as the ‘Cape Colony’, from 1890 to 1896 and introduced the Glen Grey Act, often seen as a precursor to the apartheid regime in South Africa.

His statue has been in place at Oriel College’s Grade II-listed Rhodes Building, in High Street, since it was completed in 1911. The money to build it was provided by Rhodes, a former student at the college.

His portrait also features on a metal bust on the wall of 6 King Edward Street.

But in an article for the Oxford University student newspaper Cherwell, campaigner Brian Kwoba wrote: “[Rhodes] introduced policies to segregate non-whites in schools, hospitals, theatres, and public transport, imposed draconian labour laws, forced black people to carry passes, and removed thousands from the Cape Colony’s electoral rolls.

“Rather than place a murderous colonialist like Rhodes upon a pedestal, I believe that Rhodes must fall.”

Oriel College did not respond to requests for comment.