The proportion of graduates who were unemployed six months after completing their degrees rose by more than a third last year, new figures reveal.
The statistics, which date from 2007-08 and so do not reflect the even tougher circumstances facing today's graduates, show that 8.2 per cent were still out of work after six months, compared with 5.7 per cent the previous year.
The data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa) show that the proportion of new graduates in employment fell from 63 to 61 per cent year on year, while 15 per cent were in further study, and 7 per cent were studying and working.
The University of Buckingham topped the employability table, with 100 per cent of its 2007-08 cohort going on to find work or enter further study. Terence Kealey, the vice-chancellor, put its success down to its small size.
London Metropolitan University held the worst record, with just 78.8 per cent of its graduates in work or study after six months.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the figures made "grim reading" for the sector. "The fact that graduates are entering such a tough job market with record levels of debt must be a real cause for concern for all of us," she said.
The performance indicators, which were published by Hesa last week, also looked at external income from research grants and contracts.
The University of Oxford earned the most in 2007-08, attracting £283 million in funding. Imperial College London was second, with £255 million, followed by the University of Cambridge, with £242 million.
The money is over and above that allocated by the funding councils on the back of the research assessment exercise. It includes funding from research councils and companies. However, Oxford's staff costs were higher than those of both Imperial and Cambridge, and it did not produce as many PhDs as Cambridge.
The Hesa figures also showed that in terms of the proportion of research grants and contracts obtained compared with the proportion of academic staff costs, the Institute of Education, University of London, is the best performer, when the data are scaled to take account of subject costs.
For more, including full details of performance indicators, see related article (right)