According to a new study, most British students do it just to avoid debt and cover basic living expenses
A three year study conducted by researchers at Swansea University has revealed that one in 20 British students have worked in the sex industry to cover costs as they get through uni. A further 25 per cent say that they've seriously considered sex work.
While some cited motivations of sexual pleasure and enjoyment, it was largely economic factors driving their decision to enter the sex industry. Over half of those who have worked as escorts or strippers say that they did so as a means of just paying their way.
The Student Sex Work Project revealed that 45 per cent said they did sex work to avoid debt, while 39 per cent said it was to ensure that they weren't swimming in debt at the end of their studies. While there hasn't been much historical data on how many UK students moonlight as sex workers, five percent of all students does seem like a pretty high number. So why is this happening?
Well, let's start with how expensive going to university actually is in 2015: tuition fees currently clock in at £9,000 a year. (Thanks for nothing, Nick Clegg.) Ed Miliband made a solemn oath to slash fees to £6,000 if he gets into government, but that still means you're coming out of university saddled with around £20,000 in debt. It makes it all the more galling when you look over at Germany, a country that has totally scrapped tuition fees.
In the study, an undergraduate called Holly explains that she rejects the label of a sex worker. "Actually being a prostitute is far more than simply having sex with somebody," she said. "I'm not just a prostitute. My name is Holly. I'm a student. I like baking, volunteering, running and well all of those every day things that people with normal jobs like to do."
Earlier this year, we ran a story on how websites like Seeking Arrangement allowed students to work as "sugar babies" for rich older men and women. The sugar babies we interviewed told the same story: they entered the sex industry to cover uni costs.
Dr Tracey Sagar, one of the study authors, told Sky News: "We now have firm evidence that students are engaged in the sex industry across the UK. The majority of these students keep their occupations secret and this is because of social stigma and fears of being judged by family and friends. And, we have to keep in mind that not all students engaged in the industry are safe or feel safe."
"It is vital now that universities arm themselves with knowledge to better understand student sex work issues and that university services are able to support students where support is needed."
Are you at university and working in the sex industry? Tell us your story on firstname.lastname@example.org.