We spoke to two undergraduates who are relying on richer men to get through uni
With skyrocketing rent and ever-increasing tuition fees, life in the UK is one big expensive clusterfuck for young people. So is it any wonder that an increasing number of university students are trading on their sex appeal and turning to sugar daddy websites to supplement their student grant?
Seeking Arrangement, a site where rich, lonely and/or busy men (or women) can hire "sugar babies", has reported a 42% increase in sign-ups coming from cash-strapped scholars. The site – whose founder, Brandon Wade, once argued that "love is a concept made up by poor people" – claims that 1.4 million profiles belong to students at UK universities.
It's even ranked the unis in order of the number of new sign-ups. The University of Westminster takes the top spot with 180 new sign-ups in 2014. The University of Kent is second with 134 new users and Cambridge rounds off the top three with 127.
"Sugar daddies and mommies are cash rich, but time poor," Seeking Arrangement spokesperson Angela Bermudo tells Dazed. "They don’t have time for traditional dating, let alone conventional relationships themselves. In return for being the main breadwinner in the relationship, they are able to get a relationship which is customised to their present lifestyle."
"By being sugar daddies or mommies, they can decide when, where, and how often they meet with their partner – even going so far as to deciding what they talk about and how the other person conducts themselves during the time they spend together."
So far, so sleazy. But two students we spoke to say that the life of a sugar baby beats waitressing at Nandos or pulling pints at the college bar.
Rachel*, 21, is a second year law student at the University of Durham. She says that she had to give up her career doing editorial modelling when she got to uni and, unable or unwilling to rely on her family, she joined Seeking Arrangement. Her 40-year-old sugar daddy runs his own business in the oil industry and gives her a monthly allowance of £1,500. They've been seeing each other for six months now and Rachel wouldn't consider seeing anyone else.
"He’s very understanding so he mentors me and gives me advice," says Rachel. "I definitely don’t want to be in another relationship while I am with him and I don’t think he should be either, we’ve both agreed on that. At first we were just friends, but then we grew fond of each other and our relationship is intimate now."
On top of her monthly allowance, Rachel receives various gifts: perfumes, clothes and designer bags. She says that she's only told two or three of her friends; her family don't know.
“Instead, he showers her in luxury – she's been bought a £500 bag and a £650 laptop”
"I'm in my third year of uni, I joined in my first year," says Danielle*, a 21-year-old sugar baby who studies psychology at the University of Leeds. "I've been with my current sugar daddy for eight months. He's not my boyfriend, I don't see it as a relationship, it's just simply meeting up with someone. I see him every three or four weeks."
Her daddy, a 40-year-old accountant, takes her on expensive dinners and buys her clothes, jewellery and bags. She says she hasn't asked for a monthly allowance but is confident she could have one if she asked.
According to Danielle, they've never had sex; she describes her sugar daddy as "a very good friend". He doesn't pay her rent or give her a monthly allowance; she holds down a job at a bar to earn money. Instead, he showers her in luxury – she's been bought a £500 bag and a £650 laptop. Danielle says her arrangement enables her to acquire things she could never afford otherwise. In her words, she "works to keep a roof over her head and gets dressed otherwise".
Both women were extremely positive about their Seeking Arrangement experience with sugar daddies, and claim that they've never heard anything negative happening to other sugar babies.
Even though sex isn't an explicit criteria of the website, critics argue that sites like Seeking Arrangement promote prostitution. But its founder, Brandon Wade, says that the relationships made through the site allow students to "have a more solid financial situation upon graduation". What do you think?
Here are the top 10 sugar baby schools, according to Seeking Arrangement:
1. University of Westminster - 180
2. University of Kent - 134
3. University of Cambridge - 127
4. University of Nottingham - 116
5. University of Exeter - 106
6. University of Leeds - 96
7. University of Manchester - 94
8. University of St Andrews - 88
9. London School of Economics - 85
10. Queens University of Belfast - 84
* Names have been changed for this article
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