The number of graduates working part-time has risen to more than a fifth over the past year amid a backdrop of declining full-time private sector jobs, official figures show.

Some 22pc of graduates from the class of 2010/11 were in part-time work six months after graduating, as they entered one of the worst jobs markets young people have seen in a generation.

Almost one in 10 graduates, 9pc, was unemployed, figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed on Thursday. Graduate unemployment is marginally down on the previous year but the figures suggest this is because more students have been forced to accept part-time roles.

The number of graduates entering part-time jobs reached 35,365, out of a total 158,440 graduates in employment, the figures showed. The year before, 20.8pc of graduates were working part-time, down from 21.3pc in 2008/9.

The number of graduates classed as self-employed after university also rose to 5pc in 2010/11, up from 4.4pc the year before. However, industry experts have pointed out that not all those who set up their own businesses do so out of choice, with many doing “odd jobs” like cleaning or decorating to pay the bills.

Those in voluntary or unpaid work also rose by 0.8pc to 4pc over the period in a further sign of the tough UK labour market.