Civil engineering has suffered the most, with the number of graduates falling by one-third over the period. This year, only 1602 students graduated.
Building had the most graduates – 4272 – for the past academic year but even this was a decline of 28% compared with 1996.
A spokesman for the Construction Industry Training Board, which recently launched a controversial advertising campaign to attract young people into construction, voiced concern at the figures.
He said CITB initiatives were trying to halt the decline in recruits, but that it was proving "a long haul. The industry needs 370,000 people in the next five years."
Raising standards will attract new people. The image of construction needs a relaunch
Rob Tovey, RICS head of education
The dearth of graduates was highlighted earlier in the year, when Luton University was forced to disband its construction department because of a lack of students and the University of Glamorgan suspended its quantity surveying course after the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors withdrew accreditation, saying the college did not meet its new, tougher standards.
The RICS insists that evidence from a sample of its newly accredited courses suggests that higher standards are attracting more people into surveying, and may provide a solution to the lack of graduates.
Rob Tovey, RICS' head of education, said: "There appears to be something in the philosophy that raising standards will attract new people into the industry. The image of construction requires a fundamental relaunch."