Medical sciences graduates were the most successful at getting jobs five years after leaving the University of Southampton, figures show.

But the Institute of Student Employers said a combination of lockdown and recession will present graduates with a challenging labour market for years to come.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show 96% of medical sciences graduates from the the University of Southampton class of 2012 were working or still studying five years later.

This was the highest of all degree subjects at the university, with 25 graduates.

In contrast, just 75% of languages and area studies graduates were not employed or still studying in 2017-18.

Across Britain, languages graduates had the lowest average rate of employment or further study five years after finishing a course, of 79%.

Those studying Celtic studies were most likely to be employed, with 93%. They were closely followed by veterinary science graduates.

The ISE said the success of some subjects and institutions can be explained by strong vocational pathways and by developing highly-valued skills such as numeracy.

But employers are willing to recruit from a wide variety of subjects, and are becoming less insistent on a 2:1 grade.

Tristram Hooley, chief research officer at the ISE, said he was sceptical of overly simplistic explanations.

He said: “Covid-19 is clearly making a big difference to the graduate labour market.

“So far employers have continued to invest in graduates, albeit in somewhat lower numbers. But, the mix of lockdown and recession is likely to mean that graduates are going to be facing a challenging labour market for a number of years to come.”

In addition, the HESA figures show medicine and dentistry graduates had the highest earnings five years after graduating from the University of Southampton, with an average income of £49,600.

While creative arts and design graduates were earning just £22,600 at this time.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “We want all university students to benefit from a high quality education and go on to pursue successful careers, delivering value for money for students and taxpayers.”