The annual UK Graduate Careers Survey found that fewer than 40 per cent of final-year students at Edinburgh, Glasgow and St Andrews expect to find a graduate position.
The survey, including responses from more than 18,000 students across the UK, notes that more students than ever before (70 per cent) research their career options before beginning the final year of their degrees.
More than two-thirds of applicants who had completed an internship or other holiday work with a graduate employer had received at least one definite job offer by March, compared with just 11 per cent of who had no careers-related work experience while at university.
But while 44 per cent of students surveyed expected to find a graduate position, the figures in Scotland were lower, with students at Edinburgh (38 per cent), Glasgow (35 per cent) and St Andrews (38 per cent) all downbeat about their chances in the jobs market. Only Strathclyde scored better, with 44 per cent of those polled expecting to find a job.
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, the firm which carried out the survey, said: “Our latest research highlights that work experience is no longer an optional extra for university students, it’s an essential part of preparing for the graduate job market.
“Students who just focus on their degree studies without spending time in the workplace are unlikely to develop the skills and interests that graduate employers are looking for. The survey also shows just how hard today’s university students are working to secure a graduate job at the end of their degree.
“Record numbers of students are now choosing to research their career options in their first or second year, rather than leaving job hunting until the final six months before graduation.”
Robin Parker, president of the National Union of Students (NUS) in Scotland, said: “Graduates in Scotland are understandably concerned about the difficult jobs market they are about to enter. Graduate unemployment represents a huge waste of talent, and far too many students still face an uncertain future as they wind up their studies.”
Alastair Sim, director of Universities Scotland, said: “It’s surprising that students in Scotland are pessimistic about their career prospects when students studying at Scottish universities have actually had the highest rates of positive destinations and the highest starting salaries in the UK for the past two years. ”
London Imperial College 53%
London School of Economics 52%
London Kings College 43%
London University College 42%
Belfast Queen’s University 39%
St Andrews 38%
SURVEY AVERAGE 44%