Almost 20,000 students were out of work six months after leaving university, while thousands more took jobs as cleaners, office juniors and road sweepers, according to new figures.
They suggest that those who studied science subjects were more likely to be in professional occupations than those who took arts and humanities-based degrees.
Overall, around 18,500 UK and EU full-time university leavers (8%) were assumed to be unemployed after completing their first degree in the 2012/13 academic year, data published by Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) shows.
This is down slightly from 9% in 2011/12.
Men were more likely to be considered unemployed than women, the latest figures suggest.
They also show that the proportion of graduates who were jobless varied between degree subjects. None of those who had studied medicine and dentistry were considered unemployed, along with just four per cent of those who took subjects linked to medicine. Education graduates also fared well, with just three percent assumed to be out of work.
At the other end of the scale, around 13% of computer science graduates were unemployed, along with 11% of those who studied for degrees in mass communications and documentation.
The HESA statistics also look at the types of jobs and careers graduates were in after gaining their degree.
In total, 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.
The other third (59,600 graduates) were in "non-professional" jobs that did not necessarily require a degree.
Around 870 graduates employed in the UK were working in factories or plants, up from 745 last year, while 10,405 were in "elementary occupations" - jobs such as office juniors, hospital porters, waiters, bartenders, road sweepers, window cleaners and shelf stackers. This is up from 9,695 last year.
Other students in "non-professional" roles, were working in areas such as administration and secretarial, skilled trades, service and caring industries and sales and customer service.
An analysis of the statistics indicates that three quarters (75%) of those who studied science subjects at university were in "professional" jobs, compared to 55% of those that took creative arts degrees, 52% of those that studied languages and 51% of those who studied history and philosophy subjects.
And just 5.1% of science students were working in factories and "elementary occupations", compared to more than one in 10 (10.6%) creative arts graduates and 10% of those who took history and philosophy.