He said the new school curriculum, due in August, would provide a greater range of qualifications taken at different times and that should be taken into consideration.
And he also called for the new Scottish baccalaureates to be given greater credit and suggested they could perhaps even replace first year at university.
He said: "Curriculum for Excellence will change the way qualifications take place and universities need to change the way they view that.
"Universities have to be much more flexible. Curriculum for Excellence will present different types of qualifications We need to ensure this happens sooner rather than later."
Mr Russell challenged universities to examine how baccalaureates should feed into universities.
For example they could be a substitute for first year at university, allowing pupils to go straight into the second year of a languages degree.