The annual UK Graduate Careers Survey found a record 42 per cent of those in their final year had made job applications to graduate employers almost a year before graduation.
Meanwhile, just 12 per cent of finalists said they planned to have a break after their studies – the lowest level since the survey began in 1995.
The poll, which was carried out by High Fliers Research, questioned more than 17,000 students at 30 UK universities, including Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews and Strathclyde.
It found the average number of graduate job applications made by those in their final year had increased from 5.7 applications per student in 2009-10 and 6.8 applications per student in 2010-11, to a record 6.9 applications per student this year.
Tthere has been a 40 per cent rise in the overall number of graduate job applications, compared with two years ago.
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, said the research “shows just how hard today’s university students are working to get a graduate job at the end of their degree”.