Two-thirds of university students do not expect to find a graduate-level job after finishing their degrees this summer, research found.
With Britain gripped by recession, confidence in the graduate jobs market his plummeted to a 15-year low, according to the annual Graduate Careers Survey.
More than half of university-leavers (52 per cent) say prospects for new graduates are very limited, and just 36 per cent of those in their final year of university believe they will either start a graduate job, or be looking for one after finishing their studies.
The survey of more than 16,000 final-year students, conducted by High Fliers Research, found that soon-to-be graduates are making more job applications.
But the number of those who have received a firm job offer has fallen by a third, it said.
A third of those looking for work said that in the current economic climate, they would have to accept any job they were offered.
Four in ten (42 per cent) said they are worried that even if they are offered a job, it may be cancelled before they begin.
Almost half (48 per cent) are concerned they may be made redundant in their first 12 months.
The most popular sectors for applications this year are for careers in teaching, media and marketing.
But the number of students applying to investment banks – which was the second most popular choice for graduates last year – has dropped by a third.
Managing director of High Fliers Research, Martin Birchall, said: “Our latest survey shows that final-year students due to leave UK universities this summer are gloomy and frustrated about their employment prospects.”