About 9% of UK graduates were out of work six months after completing their first degrees in 2012, according to new statistics.

Male graduates were more likely to be unemployed (11% compared with 7% of females), but their average pay was higher.

The average earnings for men was £21,000 a year, with women taking home £19,000, says the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).

Almost two-thirds of working graduates were in professional roles, while a third were working in occupations that did not require a degree.

Professor Michael Gunn, chairman of the university think tank million+, said of the findings: ‘Six months is a relatively short time to make a judgment about the value of getting a degree and the occupations which graduates will enter in the future.

‘However, these statistics confirm that, even in a difficult labour market, studying for a degree on a full-time or a part-time basis remains one of the best ways of securing employment and a career.’

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