Data released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency on 5 July indicate that 90.3 per cent of full-time first-degree leavers from 2010-11 were in employment or further study six months post-graduation – a figure 3.5 percentage points lower than the pre-recession level in 2006-07.
Despite the decline, the 9.7 per cent inactivity figure is less than half the rate of overall youth unemployment in the UK, which according to the most recent Office for National Statistics figures stands at 22.4 per cent.
Among the best performing higher education institutions was the Arts University College Bournemouth. Almost 98 per cent of its Class of 2011 were in work or further study six months after graduating, according to Hesa.
Several other new universities also performed well, including Robert Gordon University (97.1 per cent graduate employment or further study), the University of Northampton (96.6 per cent) and the University of Huddersfield (93.5 per cent).
Several new universities also outperformed nearby traditional institutions. Nottingham Trent University (93.6 per cent) outscored the University of Nottingham (91.8 per cent) and York St John University (92.7 per cent) beat the University of York (91.5 per cent).
The worst performers include the University of East London (79.4 per cent), the University of Bolton (78.8 per cent) and London South Bank University (78.1 per cent), according to the Hesa report.
Patrick McGhee, vice-chancellor of East London and chair of Million+, which represents many post-92 universities, said: “It’s clear that at a time of high unemployment, studying for a degree is still a very good way of getting a job.
“Modern universities offer a very wide range of programmes and welcome people of all ages, including those who want to study part-time.”
He added: “There is still time for people to find out how they could start studying for a degree in the autumn to help them get the job they want in the future.”