New students at one of China’s top universities must now prove that they can swim before they can graduate.
Known as China’s “MIT,” Tsinghua University announced the requirement on Monday, which applies to students beginning their classes in September.
According to the rule, students must demonstrate — using any stroke — that they can swim at a depth of at least 50 meters.
Tsinghua University first imposed the requirement in the 1910s, but dropped it later when admission numbers soared. Liu Bo, director of the physical education department, recalled (via Global Times):
“Students unable to swim could neither graduate nor study abroad. The policy was ended due to an increase in enrollment and lack of facilities.”
Liu said its reimplementation gives students “essential survival skills” and improves their physical fitness.
The announcement easily caught fire on Chinese social media as some questioned the rule’s relevance, especially for city-dwellers. Others, however, were more welcoming.
BBC took note of some comments:
“What happens to students from arid places that have no seaside or rivers?”
“Even though it is a ‘famous university,’ it shouldn’t make up arbitrary rules, as such rules could snuff out talents.”
“[Tsinghua University is promoting a] necessary skill which can save lives… It’s a good thing for the university to emphasise this.”
“I can swim, can I go to Tsinghua University?”
“Tsinghua University to make ability to swim compulsory for obtaining diploma… I had to learn Tai Chi to get mine.”