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Chinese universities accept only physically strong students

To earn a place in Chinese universities it's not enough to have good grades, students also may have to prove their physical fitness under an Education Ministry proposal.

The proposal comes after a ministry survey showed there was an overall decline in the physical strength of high school students in recent years, the China Daily newspaper reported.

"The inappropriate educational concepts, which put study ahead of anything else and impose (a) great burden on pupils, have seriously affected their healthy growth," Liao Wenke, a vice director with the ministry, was quoted as saying by the paper.

"The endurance, strength and lung capacity of the children continue to fall and rapidly, especially in the last 10 years," Liao said.

The Education Ministry is considering recording the results of physical tests in students' academic files.

"The results can then be reviewed as an important reference by universities and other higher educational institutes in enrolling students," Liao was quoted as saying in a separate report by the Xinhua News Agency.

The ministry is also considering using the physical test as a way to split university applicants who have the same score on written tests.

Competition for spots at China's top universities is grueling.

It also plans to raise the physical test standards for students who wish to enroll in senior high schools.

The 2005 survey, involving 380,000 students, revealed a sharp increase in the number of students between the ages of 7 and 18 who were overweight.

It also found that Chinese students jumped an average of 1.18 inches less in the long jump compared with 2000.

The ministry urged schools throughout the country to improve their sports facilities "so students could build up their body strength."

"Courts, gymnasiums and fields should be open to young people, encouraging them to do more physical exercise," the ministry's proposal was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

The proposal follows orders issued at a meeting of top Communist Party leaders on Monday to give sports education higher priority throughout the country. Xinhua said earlier the meeting emphasizing sports and tighter Internet controls was presided over by President Hu Jintao.

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