The number of students receiving some of their teaching in Welsh fell in 2011-12, with huge differences in the language’s prevalence at Wales’ universities.
Figures from the Welsh government show that 4,715 students at institutions in the country were being taught in the language, a 4 per cent decrease on the previous year.
This represents 3.6 per cent of all students at Welsh universities, compared with 3.8 per cent in 2010-11.
The data, contained in the statistical bulletin Welsh in Higher Education Institutions, 2011/12, show that teaching in the language is common in some universities but virtually absent from others.
At the University of Wales Trinity Saint David (which has since merged with Swansea Metropolitan University and the University of Wales), almost a third of all students were taught in Welsh. At Bangor University the figure was 12 per cent.
Together, the institutions taught seven in 10 of all students being instructed in Welsh.
However, at the University of Wales, Newport (now merged with the University of Glamorgan), just 0.2 per cent were taught in Welsh. At Cardiff University, Wales’ premier research institution, the figure was 0.8 per cent.
The Cardiff government aims to have 5,600 students a year taking at least five credits of their courses in Welsh by 2015-16, although the statistics do not record this particular measure.
In a statement, a spokesman for the government acknowledges that the figures show a “tiny decrease” in teaching in Welsh.
But he also points out that the number of staff able to teach in the language has increased by more than 10 per cent to 800.
The data reveal that of those academics who are able to teach in Welsh, the number actually doing so was 510. In 2010-11 the figure was 465.
“We are committed to ensuring that people are able to live all aspects of their lives through the medium of Welsh, including…higher education,” the spokesman says.