While Lily Cole plays the dating game, her peers worry about student finances

While most of her peers are likely to be manning the phones of the local call centre or flipping burgers in an effort to save some money before they head off to university, the millions earned through modelling are allowing Lily Cole to enjoy the high life before she has to knuckle down with the books.

The supermodel, who also added another string to her bow when she appeared in the re-make of the St Trinnian’s movie earlier this year, is due to take up a place to study at Cambridge in October, though she will no doubt carry on as the face of Marks & Spencer and Accessorize in between trips to the lecture theatre.

However, it hasn’t been her thoughts on Homer’s Iliad or on string theory which have set tongues wagging this week, but rather her love life.

After keeping a low head when out and about with suitors, the five foot ten-inch beauty has been spotted on the arm of two of London’s most eligible bachelors over the past few days.

Not only did Lily take in a Radiohead with actor and father of four Jude Law, which was then followed by a dinner and theatre date in the capital’s Covent Garden, but she has now been seen stepping out with Roxy Music singer Bryan Ferry.

Despite the 42-year age gap – Lily is just 20, while at 62, Ferry has four children older than her – the pair seemed to be well at ease in each other’s company, much to the delight of London’s paparazzi and tabloid editors.

Never mind the age gap, worry about the gap between renting in London and in the north

Being an old-fashioned gentleman, it is a good bet that Mr Ferry was only to happy to pick up the tab at the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s jazz club, while Hollywood star Law is also likely to have settled the restaurant bill.

Of course, as a successful young woman in her own right, Lily hardly needs to be treated.

However, this is not the case for a vast majority of young people about to fly the nest and head off to university once the summer is up.

And while Lily would have jumped at the chance to study at one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious educational institutions, many of her peers will have to think carefully before they pack up their suitcases and go and buy the Jimi Hendrix posters and incense sticks.

Indeed, new figures compiled by HSBC show that the choice of where to study can have a significant effect on a student’s financial well-being and can even make the difference between enjoying the best years of their lives and enduring three years of abject poverty.

Not surprisingly, London was found to be the most expensive location to study, with average weekly rents, even for students, comfortably topping the £100 mark.

However, dark horses such as Plymouth, Nottingham and even Leeds can eat away at a student’s finances, while those people who dream of graduating in the black should head to Northumbria or Sheffield.

HSBC Youth Manager, Lucy Payne, explained: "Students’ primary consideration will be what and where they want to study, but they must also keep one eye on their cost of living."

"When I was studying we all wanted to get as far away from our parents as possible, but these days the increasing cost of rent, food and transport mean you really have to think about your income and expenditure if you don’t want to struggle for three or four years."

Even supermodels have to hold on to the part-time jobs

As well as shopping around for the best accommodation rates, students can also give themselves a significant advantage by taking simple steps to ensure their loans stretch as far as possible.

Many banks, for example, practically fall over themselves to get students on board, offering excellent rates on overdrafts, current accounts and credit cards so as to gain long-term loyalty, so shopping around here can bring some serious benefits.

Likewise, though it’s hardly rock and roll, setting out a detailed budget at the start of each month and recording all incomings and outgoings can guard against nasty shocks at the end of the financial year, as can buying books second-hand and making sure all bills are paid on time.

And then, of course, there’s getting a part-time job.

Sure, it may not be living the student dream, but working a couple of nights in a bar is infinitely more preferable than having to move back in with the parents under a cloud of debt half-way through a course – and, these days, even supermodels have to think about paying the bills even when they’re students.

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