ALMOST a third of students believe they have no future in Ireland and will have to emigrate after they graduate in order to find work.
A survey of 5,780 students has shown that Irish students are suffering a crisis of confidence when it comes to their career prospects.
The European Graduate Barometer survey shows there has been a collapse in confidence across Europe with Irish optimism levels sinking to their lowest level ever. Two-thirds of Irish students said they were worried about their career prospects -- 10pc more than the European average.
And, worryingly, 27pc of Irish students believe they will have to emigrate to find their first professional position.
Even in growth sectors, such as IT, graduates are not expecting to find a job quickly. Those who want to work in the IT and engineering-related sectors said they expect to have to make over 35 applications and spend five months searching for a job before they are successful.
Those hoping to work in business, finance or the professions -- traditionally the largest source of graduate employment -- are even less confident, estimating their job hunt will take almost six months.
John Logue, president of the Union of Students in Ireland, said a "serious lack of self-confidence" is setting in.
"Lots of them are so despondent. They're handing in CVs and seeing them going straight to the bottom of a pile of 200 applications. There is a serious sense of despair."
Mr Logue said it was no longer possible to compare the current emigration crisis to that of the 1980s when it was largely semi-skilled young people who left Ireland.
"The guys who are leaving now have degrees in accountancy and have financial backgrounds and we worry that there is no real reason for them to come back."
He said there has been a lack of action by the Government in tackling youth unemployment or in providing initiatives for young graduates. He warned this is storing up bigger problems for the State in future.