Graduates from Cambridge University are more likely to end up unemployed than their rivals at Oxford, new figures reveal.
Although both universities are expected to lead the forthcoming graduate employment league tables, Oxford has recorded its lowest graduate unemployment figure for a decade.
Just 1.9 per cent of graduates were still seeking a job six months after graduating in 1998, compared with 3 per cent who were left unemployed after leaving Cambridge University, the universities' careers services have found.
Usually both institutions record a figure of about 3 per cent, compared with a national average of about 5 per cent.
Oxford has attributed its success to the persistent and growing interest in Oxford graduates from major employers, largely in accountancy, banking and the civil service.
Cambridge's annual careers service report said that the number of new employers approaching Cambridge for recruits has increased "less markedly than in recent years". Cambridge reported a significant shift in the traditional employment destinations of its graduates.
A smaller proportion of graduates went into Cambridge's most popular graduate profession, law, at 8 per cent of the total, compared with 9 per cent last year. For the first time, Cambridge also got more graduates into banking and securities - 5 per cent - than into accountancy, at 4 per cent.
The public sector is still unpopular with Cambridge graduates, with 14 per cent choosing public service compared with 18 per cent joining the financial and legal professions and 15 per cent going into commerce and consultancy.
At Cambridge, the proportion joining teaching and education professions slipped for a further year to 4 per cent, while Oxford managed to arrest the decline, increasing the proportion going into teaching from 2.3 per cent last year to 2.9 per cent this year.
Another trend was identified in the Cambridge report - the proportion of graduates seeking "time out", neither seeking a job or further study, has fallen from 12 per cent in 1990 to just 7 per cent this year. Oxford said that 40 per cent of ungraduates went on to further study, compared with 25 per cent at Cambridge.