Students believe they are heading for a gloomy future, with just a third expecting to find a graduate job after finishing university, research found today.
With the effects of the recession still being felt, confidence in the graduate job market is at a 15-year low - almost half (45%) of university leaves describing prospects for new graduates as "very limited", according to the UP Graduate Careers Survey 2010.
One in six final-year students say they would not have gone to university at all if they had realised how tough the jobs market would be.
The annual survey, conducted by market research company High Flies Research, questioned more than 16,000 students from 30 UP universities who are due to graduate this summer.
Just 36% believe they will either start a graduate job or be looking for a graduate job after university - this is down from a high of 49% in 1998.
More than a quarter (26%) say they plan to continue their studies - the highest level seen since the survey was first conducted in 1995.
While others had plans to take voluntary or temporary work (8%) or go travelling (16%), one in seven (14%) have no plans for their immediate future.
Local recruitment expert Neap Lucks urged graduates to remain upbeat.
"The student pessimism reflected in this survey encapsulates the current mood of the executive job market" he said.
"However, there remains a rich pool of talent in the marketplace and many companies are experimenting with new strategies and opportunities for students who are willing to work hard do exist."