The statistics show that the graduates are fairing much better in the labour market than they were six months after leaving university.
Surveyed half a year after graduating, 7.2 per cent of 2008-09 leavers were unemployed. But this proportion dropped to 3.2 per cent in the following three years, while the number in work rose from 73.4 per cent to 87.1 per cent, according to the Higher Education Statistics Authority’s longitudinal survey of graduate destinations.
The number in further study fell from 14.6 per cent to 6.7 per cent.
Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “Employment figures looking at what graduates are doing three and a half years after graduation are far more useful than those relating to six months after graduation.
“We know that the majority of those graduates who do not go straight into work six months after graduating are in full-time employment three years later.
“Some graduates will have postponed looking for a first job in order to undertake further study, to get work experience or for other reasons such as periods of travel,” she added.
But the class of 2008-09 appears to be fairing slightly worse than graduates of previous years. The 2002-03 and 2004-05 leaving cohorts had unemployment rates of 2.3 and 2.6 per cent respectively three years after graduating.
Almost three quarters of the graduates surveyed from 2008-09 said that their degree had helped them with their career, while 23 per cent said it had not. A total of 84 per cent said they were satisfied with their careers to date.
Their median salary was £24,000, up £4,000 compared with six months after graduation.