A THIRD of pupils leaving school walked into a job, new figures show.

Department of Education data showed that 495 of those finishing A-level or college courses in Swindon in 2016 entered the labour market. The previous year it was 347.

The number of Swindon students staying on in education and taking up a university or further education place plummeted to 44 per cent in 2016, the latest year for which figures are available, compared to 65 per cent the previous year.

Unions pointed to the high cost of university in an attempt to explain its falling appeal.

A spokeswoman for the National Union of Students said: "Tuition fees and loss of financial support is putting kids off. The dismantling of the maintenance grants system has led to students struggling to make ends meet and a rise in drop-out rates."

In total, 1,500 pupils left school or college in 2016. A tenth went on to start apprenticeships.