There has been a drop in the number of young Welsh people entering higher education this academic year, a national report has revealed.
The Pupil Destinations survey shows that the percentage of Year 13 pupils moving on to higher education has fallen to 56 per cent in 2010 compared to 60 per cent in 2009.
The annual survey is carried out by Careers Wales on behalf of the Welsh Assembly Government.
Trina Neilson, Chief Executive of Careers Wales’ newly-formed NewCo company, said:
“Universities across the UK have been the subject of heated debate over the last year, particularly around higher tuition fees and increased competition for places.
“It does not come as a great surprise therefore, that some school leavers are considering alternative options to a degree course.
“Now, perhaps more than ever, it is crucial that young people are given the personalised support they need to make informed decisions about their future, based on their aspirations and ability -not their background or financial status.
“It is imperative that pupils understand the full range of progression routes available to them and are guided through the decision-making process by independent advisers, alongside their teachers, family and peers.”
A Welsh Assembly Government spokesperson said: “Higher Education undergraduate student numbers at Welsh HE institutions have increased significantly since devolution.
“The number of full-time undergraduates from within the EU has increased from by approximately nine per cent between 2002/03 to 2008/09 and by a further seven per cent between 2008/09 to 2009/10.
“Institutions in Wales have amongst the highest student satisfaction ratings in the UK and it is in no-one’s interest if universities recruit beyond their capacity to sustain high quality provision.
“If our young people are to succeed in the job market of the future, there is a need to ensure that they have access to a wide range of learning programmes and training opportunities.”
The figures were derived from a major survey of the destinations of 67,317 pupils from secondary schools across Wales.
The report also revealed that significantly more females chose to go on to Higher Education after Year 13 than males, and that the percentage of young people taking a gap year has fallen to two per cent in 2010, compared with three per cent in 2009.