UK graduates have seen their starting salaries tumble by 11% over the past five years.

According to research from the Complete University Guide, university leavers earned on average £21,702 ($36,279, €26,220) in real terms in their first job in 2012.

This is down from £24,293 in 2007 when graduates commanded higher salaries before the financial crisis of 2008.

The UK's annual average salary is £26,500, according to official figures.

The research also revealed that only two subject areas – Materials Technology, and Librarianship & Information Management – showed an increase in starting salaries, of 13% and 3% respectively.

Starting salaries for General Engineering graduates fell by 2%; salaries for graduates of Middle Eastern and African Studies fell by 25%.

Even Medicine and Dentistry (always high graduate starting salary rankings) showed reductions of 15% and 9% respectively.

But the guide also found that dentistry graduates topped the table with an average salary of £30,681.

In contrast, physics and astronomy university leavers earned £24,504 in 2012.

The guide warned that the rise in university tuition fees (to up to £9,000 per year) and graduate unemployment makes this difference an increasingly key factor in deciding to study for a degree and what subject or course to follow.

The research revealed that computer science graduates in 2011 were most likely to be unemployed as 15% were out of work.

In contrast, no medicine graduates said that they were unemployed and 89% said they were in a graduate job.

The survey also found that Celtic Studies students were least likely to be in a graduate job as less than two in ten (19%) said they were in one.

The figures come after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed that there were more than 900,000 16 to 24-year-olds out of work in the UK in the three months to January.