Swim or sink: China's Tsinghua University tells students they must pass a swimming test before they can graduate

Freshmen at Tsinghua University this year will need to pass a swimming test - or go for swimming courses.
Freshmen at Tsinghua University this year will need to pass a swimming test - or go for swimming courses. PHOTO: INTERNET

BEIJING - New students at the prestigious Tsinghua University will be required to know how to swim - or learn how to and pass a test - before they can receive their bachelor's degrees.

Starting this September, freshmen who fail a swimming test upon entering the university will be made to go for swimming course, reported local news media.

The test calls for them to show they can swim at least 50m using any stroke.

University president Qiu Yong said swimming was a key survival skill, adding that the move will help improve students' physical fitness.

The announcement on Monday (March 27) has since stirred a lively debate on social media.

While some praised the university for promoting "a necessary skill that can save lives", others questioned if it was fair to expect those who hail from inland cities to be able to swim.

Another commenter added: "Even though it is a 'famous university', it shouldn't make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents."

Tsinghua University first made swimming mandatory in 1919, but the rule was later dropped as the university grew in popularity. There was also a lack of swimming pools in Beijing.

According to Xinhua, many alumni of the university had to meet the swimming challenge. Renowned writer Liang Shih-chiu, who enrolled in 1915, failed the test before his graduation and had to take a second one.