Hold the Machiavelli, apply the mascara, students told

September 2, 2005

Students who fail to get into university this year should consider using their looks rather than their brains to fill a gap year in gainful employment, a model agency has suggested.

A growing number of students are shunning jobs in bars and fast food restaurants to earn anything from £200 to £1,500 an hour as a part-time model, according to Mike Illes, director of MOT Models.

The agency has a dozen undergraduates on its books.

Student models also develop interpersonal and presentation skills and gain in confidence and self-esteem, all of which can help significantly at interviews for a university place or a job, Mr Illes added.

"The number of students we have working for us varies from year to year, but I am expecting we will pick up a lot more as those who have not got in this year or who face paying higher fees take a reality check and think about what they are going to do to earn some extra money," he said.

MOT Models is hoping some of its students will repeat the success of Jasmine Helmsley, who has been in high demand for modelling work since she graduated with a design degree from Kingston University two years ago.

Her work includes modelling campaigns for well-known companies such as the Body Shop and Adidas.

Another success story comes from Clare Peebles, who has been picking up handsome pay cheques for modelling since taking a gap year before joining a criminology course at Southampton University two years ago.

Ms Peebles said: "It's an incredibly easy thing to get into, the industry is not as snooty as it is often portrayed.

"The hours are very flexible, and for a couple of hours' work you can earn what most students would get for two months in a more menial job."

Mr Illes said agencies like his own were offering students genuine employment, not trying to exploit them.

"We try to act ethically. If students are good enough to do the job, they will earn a proper commercial rate for doing it," he said.

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