The true cost of education

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Students are a frugal lot. We’ll refuse to go to the cinema except on Orange Wednesdays, brandish our student discount card at corner shops and even cook meals if it means an extra vodka and coke down at Sugarhouse at the weekend. Unsurprisingly many students rely on a part-time job throughout university in order to make ends meet. Without wanting to bore you with news on the economic climate; the current situation means us students are willing to return home every weekend just to cling onto employment. But when does the culture of student debt go from being a constant hassle to ruining our time at university? And to what depths would you plunge to stay out of the red?

A recent Huffington Post article has highlighted the usage of ‘sugar daddy’ websites whereby mutually beneficial relationships are arranged between rich old men and young cash-strapped women. Internet pimp Brandon Wade, the founder of Seeking Arrangement, explained how ‘Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded. College students are one of the biggest segments of our sugar babies and the numbers are growing all the time’. This boom amongst students and graduates has been linked to the rising costs associated with further education.

Although this report was centred on American students, it is by no means a stateside trend. A quick search will uncover several websites situated here in the UK. In fact back in April 2010 an article warned of a clear ‘relationship between student debt and supply routes into the sex industry’ and pointed to a ‘perfect storm’ of factors such as rising tuition fees, increased debt, soaring living costs and low-wage work or unpaid internships.

Worryingly the prevalence of students here in the UK trafficking sex for education should be even more widespread. After all, students in America leave college with debts of £16,700, paling in comparison to the £60,000 of debt UK students starting in 2012 will be saddled with. With this in mind it’s no wonder the  UK study discovered nearly 17% are willing to participate in the sex industry to pay for their education, while 11% indicated a willingness to work as escorts (alas maybe spending cuts do create jobs).

For a trade that appears to be little more than prostitution its unbelievably easy to get started (if you’re a girl that is, I’ve still had no luck), whilst ‘sugar babies’ can sign up free, ‘sugar daddies’ must pay a minimum of £30 each month, rising to £1500 a year to be part of the ‘diamond club’ which essentially ensures all other users know you’re a true mega bucks pervert.

On the face of it we shouldn’t be shocked, men have paid for sex since B.C and it’s now a billion dollar industry. But what does it say about our education system when girls are resorting to selling themselves to fund it? This surely, can’t grow to be the true cost of our education.

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