The researchers say that the time when most graduates were soaked up by 'blue chip' companies is over: 'Gone are the days when around 100 employers recruited approximately one- third of the graduate output in any one year.'
Smaller and medium-size companies, 'traditionally sceptical of the worth of graduates', are now looking for degree-level applicants to fill jobs which would previously have gone to school- leavers. Professions such as accountancy, law and personnel management, which used to be open to non-graduates, are now closed to them. Similarly, other areas will become all-graduate.
Around 50 per cent of employers still do not set out to recruit newly-graduating students - but they soon will, the report suggests.
The annual 'milk round' of big employers will take an ever smaller share of students emerging from university.
The researchers also say that demand for higher education will go on rising because more parents - particularly mothers - have degrees themselves. In the early 1980s, one in eight young people entered higher education; that has now risen to one in five and will reach one in three by the year 2000. Researchers have recently found that young people whose parents went to college or university are much more likely to want higher education themselves - regardless of social class.
The number of entrants to higher education doubled between 1962 and 1969 - the last big period of expansion. Those students were, on average, bearing children between 1970 and 1978. So even though fewer children were born during those years, a much larger proportion were born to graduate parents. Those children started to reach university age in the early 1990s.
The increased number of graduate parents is causing 'a cultural revolution' in young people's attitudes towards the benefits of continuing education. The researchers say that this partly explains some of the recent improvement in GCSE and A- level results, and why those who thought student loans and reduced benefits would slow student demand have been proved wrong.
The IMS Graduate Review 1992, IMS, Mantell Building, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RF, pounds 30 plus pounds 1.75 p & p.