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Tsinghua University to make ability to swim compulsory for obtaining diploma

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-28 07:30

A proposal by Tsinghua University to make swimming a compulsory skill for obtaining an undergraduate diploma, touted as a move to encourage students to stay fit, has received a mixed response.

Citing the urgent need to promote sports among students, Liu Bo, head of the university's sports science and physical education division, said on Monday that a proposal by university president Qiu Yong urging all undergraduate students to learn how to swim will be implemented at the start of the academic year.

The university will organize a swimming test for all freshmen in September, and those who fail to swim at least 50 meters using any stroke will be required to take a mandatory course throughout their studies so that they are able to swim by the time they graduate, otherwise the university won't grant them a diploma, Liu said.

Exceptions will be allowed for students with special physical or mental conditions, such as skin disease or hydrophobia, if proved by medical staff.

"Although Tsinghua has a long tradition of emphasizing sports participation, fewer students are exercising regularly," Liu said. "It's time to take compulsory action to urge students to exercise more to strengthen the sports culture on campus."

Swimming is now taught to undergraduates in the university's indoor pool once a week during their sophomore year.

While the university currently offers advanced swimming classes in the junior year, it will introduce elementary classes, which are already taught in sophomore year, and organize extra classes in the summer at an outdoor pool, if needed, Liu said.

Yuan Jiaxiang, a junior in Tsinghua's Department of Civil Engineering, welcomed the new regulation.

"Swimming is a fundamental skill, a way to stay healthy and is potentially lifesaving in emergency situations. I believe making it mandatory is necessary," said Yuan, who learned how to swim in physical education classes at Tsinghua.

However, some would-be freshmen said it is not relevant for obtaining an undergraduate diploma.

"It's not reasonable to require people to be able to swim for them to graduate," said Zheng Xiaoyu, a high school student from the Middle School Affiliated to Northern Jiaotong University in Beijing. "For a lot of people who grew up in inland cities, learning how to swim as an adult will be difficult."

Wu Wenqiang, a researcher of athletic training at Beijing Sport University, suggested Tsinghua should first guarantee the quality of training provided by its physical education teachers and the safety of venues before implementing the new regulation.

Some other renowned universities, such as Peking University in Beijing and Xiamen University in Fujian province, have listed swimming as a compulsory course for students.

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