Climate change campaigner Greta Thunberg is being backed to replace one of Scotland’s leading lawyers as rector of Glasgow University.

Student leaders want the 16-year-old Swedish activist to succeed Aamer Anwar, 51, a human rights campaigner.

Mr Anwar was elected in 2017 by a landslide. However there have been claims he has failed to deliver on his pledges to be an “active working rector”. His three-year tenure ends next year.

Student representatives have now claimed the mood has shifted in favour of having a symbolic rector.

They argue the post was established to act as the main representative of scholars but has largely been made redundant by the establishment of the Students’ Representative Council (SRC), which employs full-time staff.

Previous rectors include William Gladstone and Charles Kennedy, as well as symbolic figures such as Winnie Mandela and Edward Snowden, the American whistleblower.

The Glasgow Guardian student newspaper wants Miss Thunberg nominated.

An editorial in the student publication, penned by Andrew Quinn, Jack Corban and Bethany Woodhead, said: “If Thunberg was elected it would demonstrate how important University of Glasgow students consider the threat of climate crisis.

“She is a source of inspiration for us and to elect her as rector would emphasise that we, as young people, are the future of the world.

“To bring in someone from the outside suggests we need an older figure to stand up for the students’ interests. The SRC president is more than capable and understands what students want better than a ‘working’ rector.”

The Glasgow Guardian’s editor-inchief Tara Gandhi said: We’ve decided to endorse the idea of a symbolic, rather than working, rector because the more we spoke to people on campus and within university staff, the more it became apparent that having a working rector is, in a way, setting yourself up for failure.

“She [Thunberg] represents what the student body cares about; the climate crisis, activism, and speaking out about the issues that will affect us as the people who will be inheriting the planet.”