The economic recession will end by the middle of this year to be followed by strong economic growth in 1983, predicted senior finance students at the University of Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce.

The prime rate will decline from the current 15.75 percent to 12.5 percent by the end of the second quarter and real growth for the third quarter will be 5.2 percent. The year will end with 1.5 percent real growth for the year, the students predicted.

The unemployment rate will increase through the recession but then drop to 6.5 percent by the end of next year, the forecast said.

The students may have a better forecast rate than their professional counterparts. A professor in charge of the project said that through the third quarter of 1981 "the group's forecast of inflation, productivity, employment levels, energy cost, personal savings rate and overall GNP are in line with current trends."

The students also predicted trends by industry. For micro-computers the outlook was for continued strong growth for at least two years, and the students said the steel industry will need another five years to get back on its feet, although it will fare better than in the immediate past.

Capital spending will rebound, resulting from government incentives to invest and business confidence, the students said. Multiplied throughout the economy, this will raise income and productivity, producing real growth by 1983, the students said.