The number of students from Wales studying at some of the UK's elite universities has dropped by almost 10% in three years, HESA figures have shown.
A total of 6,260 joined Russell Group institutions from Birmingham to York in 2015/2016, down from 6,900 in 2012/13.
Responding to these figures, Darren Millar AM, Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Secretary, said:
“Going to a Russell Group university offers big advantages in terms of gaining a foothold on the job market after graduation, so this decline is worrying indeed.
“Under the Welsh Labour Government, Wales’ school system has consistently trailed behind the rest of the UK so it’s little wonder that this has impacted on the academic aspirations of our students.
“We urgently need a schools curriculum which helps students achieve their potential and nurtures our highest achievers, so that they can go on to compete with the very best at our elite universities.
“If we allow ourselves to fall behind in this respect then it’ll have serious implications for our economy later down the line. It’s up to the Cabinet Secretary to work with schools and colleges to reverse this ailing trend.”