More than a fifth of final year students applied for jobs almost a year before graduating in order to secure jobs after their degree, says new research.
In the study of almost 18,000 final year students, it was revealed that 42% began applying for jobs in September and October.
As of March of this year, over 61% had made graduate job applications.
According to the study, the average undergraduate will owe £19,400 this year, rising to around £30,000 for those taking degrees at some London universities.
With recent studies revealing that a massive 34% of current graduates have been searching for paid work for over six months, and have been forced to claim Jobseeker's Allowance, this cautious behaviour by current final years seems inevitable.
UK Graduate Careers Survey 2012 revealed that students made an average of 6.9 applications each, up from 6.8 last year. This figure rose to 12 applications from students from the London School of Economics and 10 for University College London students.
The study, conducted by High Fliers Research, said: “Together, these results account for an unprecedented 40 per cent rise in the overall volume of job applications compared with two years ago.”
Although there has been a 5% drop in graduates that have been looking for work for over a year, and some confidence has been gained as a result, when it comes to the graduate job market, current final years are not as confident as previous years.
High Fliers Research highlighted that only 12% of final year students said they were planning to take time off before seeking employment, down from 17% in 2009 and 20% in 2001.
Graduates have become less inclined to take gap years or go travelling as a way of avoiding disappointment in the job market.
Martin Birchall, managing director of High Fliers Research, said: "Our latest research shows just how hard today's university students are working to get a graduate job at the end of their degree.
"The proportion of final year students planning to take time off or go travelling after their studies is at an all-time low and record numbers of students are now opting to research their career options in their first or second year at university, rather than leaving job hunting until the final six months before graduation."