Top Universities Shun Forced Swim Test Ahead of Home Office Review

London – Ahead of the outcome of the Home Office’s policy review of the controversial forced swim test, some of the UK’s top universities have confirmed to PETA that they do not and will not use the experiment – making the University of Bristol an outlier by continuing to use the debunked method.

Among others, Newcastle University, the University of Birmingham, the University of Nottingham, the University of Leeds, the University of Southampton, the University of Warwick, the University of York, Durham University, the University of Liverpool, the University of Brighton, the University of Glasgow, and the University of St Andrews indicated that they neither use the near-drowning test nor intend to do so in the future.

“The forced swim test is cruel and needless. Top universities are turning away from using it, and the Home Office has commissioned a review of it – and rightly so,” says PETA Science Policy Manager Dr Julia Baines. “PETA is calling on the University of Bristol to embrace modern, animal-free methods just as other institutions have done and for the Home Office to develop a policy that prevents licensing any use of this archaic experiment.”

In the discredited test, experimenters place rats, mice, or other small animals into inescapable beakers of water and watch them desperately swim in search of an escape, on the assumption that the time it takes for the animals to stop swimming and start floating can tell us something about mental health conditions and coping techniques in humans. Once the test is complete, experimenters kill the animals – by gassing, blunt force trauma to the head, an overdose of anaesthetics, or breaking their necks – sometimes to study their brains.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on FacebookTwitterTikTok, or Instagram.


Sascha Camilli +44 (0) 20 7923 6244; [email protected]