The class of 2013 are the most optimistic bunch of graduates over their prospects of gaining employment for 15 years, according to research out today.
Nearly half (44 per cent) believe they will have snapped up graduate-style employment or are confident about their ability to get it by the time they leave university this summer - the highest percentage since 1998.
The survey of 18,252 students in their final year of university also shows the highest ever proportion of graduates (70 per cent) began their search for full-time employment before starting their final year at university. On average, they made 7.1 applications for a job.
The survey, conducted by High Fliers Research - which specialises in student and graduate research - shows students were three times more likely to secure a job if they had previously done work experience or internship with an employer - with 36 per cent in that category having already received one firm offer while only 11 per who had not had received an offer.
Meanwhile, salary expectations exceed those at the start of the economic squeeze in 2008 for the first time with the average expected figure being £22,800.
Martin Burchall, director of High Fliers Research, said the survey showed “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 at university rather than leave job hunting until the final six months before graduation,” he added.
The biggest rise in applications was from students seeking engineering jobs - up 11.7 per cent - while the most unpopular job was the police force - with applications down by 22.7 per cent.