Thousands of British students are funding their way through university on so-called “sugar daddy” websites.
The sites advertise themselves as a way for “beautiful, ambitious people to graduate debt free” through “arrangements” with older “sponsors.”
One site, SeekingArrangement.com, claims 12,600 UK students have signed up with proof of university enrollment.
A 20-year-old student on the website told us she earns £2,000, equivalent to around $3,064, a month from her “arrangement,” which has become sexual.
She said: “I’ve saved quite a lot. It pays for my travel, my books, I haven’t had to take out a student loan. I’ve been quite well off.”
She claims the sugar world can turn sour for some on the site.
“There’s a very fine line between prostitution and being a sugar baby,” she said.
“Students are so vulnerable because it’s quick money and they need money, students find it a quick way out.”
In an interview with Sky News, Brandon Wade, the founder of SeekingArrangement.com denied it was an escort site but that it enabled “sugar babies” to “upgrade their lifestyle”.
He said sex was never expected, but it is aspired to and that the website had led to countless marriages worldwide.
“You want to find somebody who is well educated, who can provide for you financially, you know it’s sort of the Disney dream so to say,” said Mr Wade.
He said the cost of university education rising – with tuition fees alone now up to £9,000, or $13,789 a year – has resulted in a huge increase in the number of students signing up.
He claims there are 12 times more students on the website than in 2009.
A married 62-year-old sugar daddy who is currently seeing four sugar babies told Sky News: “I wouldn’t be able to mee girls as young and as beautiful as this through an ordinary dating website.”
He also said that “sex is an integral part of the site”.
He believed consensual relationships were “really appropriate for students” looking to supplement their bank accounts.
“What a great way to get a little bit of extra pocket money and much better than having to spend eight hours slogging in a bar earning the minimum wage,” he added.
According to a poll run by the website, students are spending their funds from their relationships with sugar daddies on their tuition fees, rent, books and transport costs.