Graduate jobs have slumped in the financial industry leaving former students battling for a dwindling number of lucrative posts.
There are 45 per cent fewer jobs on offer in banking and financial services than this time last year.
Accountancy and professional services firms have 17 per cent fewer jobs for university leavers.
Fast-moving consumer goods companies – which sell high-volume, low-cost products such as soft drinks and toiletries – and law firms have shed ten per cent and five per cent respectively.
Overall, there are four per cent fewer graduate jobs compared to 12 months ago as businesses struggle with a stagnant economy, according to a survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters.
The shrinking opportunities will be bleak news for the record number of undergraduates.
Applications to go to university peaked at around 670,000 three years ago as school-leavers attempted to avoid the introduction of higher fees. Many will be entering the job market next year.
This was followed by a sharp drop but numbers are climbing again as teenagers accept leaving university with heavy debts is a price they must pay to meet employers’ rising demands for higher qualifications.
The pressure on the graduate jobs market comes at a time when the economic gains of years of study in further education have been significantly eroded.