One in five Irish college graduates plan on emigrating according to a new survey.

And even though most college courses finish in May, 90 percent of this year's graduates don’t have any work lined up.

The survey was carried out by the University College Cork’s Student Union, who interviewed a random sample of 339 students in colleges in Cork and Limerick.

The results suggest that Ireland is heading back to the bad old days of the 1980s when thousands of Irish graduates had no choice but to head to the U.S., Britain. or Australia, in search of work.

History seems likely to repeat itself: the survey found that more than 50 percent of students think they have little chance of finding a job, 63 percent were pessimistic about the future, and 50 percent planned to stay in school.

Eamon Gilmore, leader of opposition party Labour, says the findings were a reality check for claims that Ireland is still a knowledge economy.

"In one word what this crisis comes down to is jobs,” Gilmore said. What am I going to do, where am I going to go? There is a fundamental battle of ideas going on at the moment, from people who want to shrink the economy with cuts to those who want to grow it with jobs. We need to find work for graduates when they leave.

"The students in colleges across Munster should be aiming to be the generation who will lead the European project and the Irish economy in the future, but that will not happen if we are just throwing the next generation on the dole queue.”