Nine colleges encouraged students to use their week off in April to find a mate
A group of vocational colleges in China have granted their students a week off in April with the express purpose being to enjoy the outdoors and find a romantic partner.
The colleges of the Fan Mei Education Group are all vocational schools for jobs within the aviation industry, including pilots, flight attendants and air traffic controllers.
"The school implements the spring break system in the hope that students can learn to love nature, love life, and enjoy love," the Mianyang Aviation Vocational College announced in a statement on March 23. It encouraged students to "walk out of campus, get in touch with nature, and with your heart feel the beauty of spring."
In its own statement, the Qingdao Aviation Technology Vocational College said the purpose of the spring break between April 1 to 7 was to "enjoy the flowers and to fall in love."
While the college announcements made no mention of the country's aging population or shrinking labor force, some Chinese social media users and Western media outlets linked the decision to concerns surrounding China's declining birth rates.
"I'm sure this is just another attempt to push people into having more babies," one person wrote on the Chinese social media site Weibo, according to Fox News.
China's National Bureau of Statistics reported a population drop of 850,000 in 2022, the first decrease since 1962. The data showed a record-low birth rate and the highest death rate since 1976. Last October, President Xi Jinping pledged to "boost birth rates, and bring down the costs of pregnancy and childbirth, child rearing, and schooling."
In addition to chasing romance, the students will still have college work to do during their week off - but the assignments include writing travel diaries, crafting or filming videos of their holiday activities, according to China Youth Daily.
The love-themed spring break is an extension of China's annual one-day national tomb-sweeping holiday, known as the Qingming Festival, which falls on April 5 this year.