More than 18,000 graduates were unemployed six months after leaving university, while thousands more took jobs as cleaners, shelf-stackers and road sweepers, new figures have revealed.
Arts and humanities graduates were more likely to be working in menial jobs than those who had studied science subjects, the data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) showed.
Overall, around 18,500 UK and EU full-time university leavers, (one in 12) were assumed to be unemployed after completing their first degree in the 2012/13 academic year. This is down slightly from nine per cent in 2011/12.
Men were more likely to be considered unemployed than women, the figures found.
Around one third of last year’s graduates (59,600 graduates) were in "non-professional" jobs that did not necessarily require a degree.
Around 8,700 were employed in the UK were working in factories or plants, while 10,405 were in "elementary occupations", such as office juniors, hospital porters, waiters, bartenders, road sweepers, window cleaners and shelf-stackers. This was up from 9,695 last year.
Other graduates in "non-professional" roles, were working in administration and secretarial, skilled trades, service and caring industries and sales and customer service.
An analysis of the statistics found that three quarters (75 per cent) of those who studied science subjects at university were in "professional" jobs, compared to 55 per cent of those that took creative arts degrees, 52 per cent of those that studied languages and 51 per cent of those who studied history and philosophy subjects.
And just 5.1 per cent of science students were working in factories and "elementary occupations", compared to more than one in 10 (10.6 per cent) creative arts graduates and 10 per cent of those who took history and philosophy.
Around two thirds of last year's full-time first degree graduates working in the UK were in posts classed as "professional employment". This includes vets, dentists, pharmacists, engineers, teachers and solicitors.