In its annual report, the department said that the proportion of first-degree graduates obtaining first and upper-second class degrees has increased. But as the quality had risen, their employment prospects had diminished. 'Graduate unemployment has risen from the low levels of the late 1980s, but this is a reflection of the business cycle,' it said.
In 1988 and 1989 a majority of all students were known to have found permanent jobs within four months of graduating from English colleges and universities. But the proportion fell from 51.5 per cent in 1988 and 1989 to 48.5 per cent in 1990, 44 per cent in 1991 - and 38 per cent last December.
Over the period, there was an increase in the proportion of graduates going into temporary jobs, further education and training, and even emigrating. But the proportion 'believed unemployed' rose from 6.2 per cent to 9.8 per cent.
Meanwhile, the number of people graduating rose over the four years to last summer by more than 15 per cent in England, from 97,000 in 1988 to 112,000. However, the number of students known to have got permanent employment fell by 14 per cent, from 50,000 to 43,000 over the same period.
The department estimated that 28 per cent of young people went into higher education last autumn, and the Government plans to increase that to a third by the end of the decade. The number of full-time equivalent students in Britain is expected to top a million for the first time next year.
Frank Dobson, Labour employment spokesman, said last night: 'Over the next few years, we're going to have even more graduates, even fewer jobs, and even more graduate unemployment.'Reuse content