A study conducted by the London South Bank University has found that one in three students would be willing to exchange sex for a free education and more than half would consider entering into a 'sugar daddy' relationship to finance their studies. According to a report from The Independent, 75 percent said that they would be willing to at least give up some of their time to a sugar daddy figure.
Shelly Asquith, vice-president of welfare for the National Union of Students (NUS) said that with the skyrocketing cost of tuition and housing, the findings were no surprise.
"In the context of rising tuition fees, rising rents and the scrapping of maintenance grants, it is no wonder that students are increasingly looking for new ways to fund their degrees."The study was conducted by blind online poll and attracted 1477 respondents. Of the responses, just under 70 percent admitted to being stressed by money, 53 percent said they'd had to take on a job alongside their studies, and 88 percent said that they would be interested in having someone else pay for their education.
Dr. Julia Shaw and Gemma Daglish, university project researchers, said that people were willing to go "way further" than they had anticipated.
"What does it mean? We don't know yet, but openness to the idea of becoming a sugar baby is far higher than we had predicted."Respondents to the poll were 52 percent male and 45 percent female. Of those, some 31 percent said that they would be willing to have sex with someone that they were attracted to for a free education. 16 percent were willing to go as far as sex without attraction if it meant having their education paid for. But including that 16 percent, almost three in four were willing to at least provide some degree of companionship for education.
"'Sugar baby' sounds a lot better than 'prostitute' or 'escort.'"
"What if we had asked people whether they were willing to become prostitutes for a free education? Do you think fewer people would have agreed? We think so."
"Because we were hoping that people from different sexual orientations would take part, we decided to leave the gender of the funding provider to the imagination of our participants," the authors added.
55 percent of respondents also indicated that a drop in student funding would make them more likely to consider such an arrangement. Overall, nearly every respondent said that they were at least a bit interested, and one in five indicated that they were "very interested" in a sugar baby arrangement for education. Most of the respondents were current or former students.
Seeking Arrangement, the leading app for connecting sugar daddies and sugar babies, told The Independent that it had almost a quarter of a million UK students as members - a number which jumped 40 percent in the last two years.
University tuition across the English-speaking world has generally risen sharply in the last decade, and funding continues to decrease; according to Forbes, the average student in America now graduates with over $37,000 in debt, and it has been linked to increased levels of stress, and mental and physical illness. One in seven report being chased by debt collectors for rent. Student loan debt is now the second-highest consumer debt category, ahead of credit cards and car loans.
Student debt in the UK is even worse - although it's a matter of degrees.
"In many cities across the UK, the average maintenance loan won't even cover a student's rent, let alone food and other living costs," said Asquith. "In the long term, we need to continue to make the case for a free education."Asquith added that many students, however, were already engaging in sex work to support their studies - and that higher education institutes were responsible in the short-term for making sure they were properly supported. "We need to work with universities to ensure that students who are engaging in sex work to fund their degrees are properly supported," she said.
"Their safety should be a priority."[Featured Image by SIphotography/iStock]