A student shows his certificate after passing the test. [Photo/VCG]
For every freshman at Tsinghua University in Beijing this year, their first big test after enrollment is to prove themselves in the pool. The prestigious university now requires all students to swim or learn to swim before they graduate.
445 volunteers took their swimming test recently, with 407 of them passing, registering a 91.5% pass rate.
According to a university questionnaire, half of the new students are confident they will be able to pass the test, while 32% say they cannot swim. The mandatory rule was instituted at Tsinghua University in March, 2017, with the faculty deciding that swimming is a key survival skill for students.
Starting from the 2017 fall semester, all new students are required to take a test to prove they can swim at least 50m using any stroke they prefer. Anyone who can't swim will be given free courses until they can pass the test. If a student is unable to pass the swimming test by the time they graduate, he or she won't be granted a diploma.
Tsinghua has been dubbed the Harvard of the East. The 106-year-old university first made swimming a requirement in 1919, but later withdrew the rule due to a lack of swimming pools in Beijing at the time.
The new rule has triggered wide debate among students and the public. Some have questioned if the rule is fair for students from inland provinces. One student has objected to the mandatory course, noting he nearly drowned in his childhood and is afraid of water. Others though, support the concept, noting that swimming can be chosen as an elective.
Nearly half of all students at Tsinghua who take physical education courses choose swimming as their elective.