As living costs and educational fees rise, many students are worried about how they are going to pay their way through university.
One increasingly popular method, it seems, is for students to sign up to be ‘sugar babies’.
More than 500 York students are registered to Seeking Arrangement, the world’s largest website aimed at matching ‘sugar babies’ to wealthy and generous ‘sugar daddies’, who are expected to lavish gifts on their ‘dates’.
Altogether 460 University of York students have signed up to the site. That means York is seventh in the table of universities with the most registered students. A further 60 were signed up from York St John.
And the people behind the website say they expect that number to rise as “students are finding these elevated relationships beneficial”.
‘I liked the idea of it’
We spoke to one student from York St John University who signed up to Seeking Arrangement.
She had heard stories about sugar daddies and wanted to try it out. “I liked the idea of someone wanting to just shower me in attentions and gifts,” she said. “The money wasn’t really why I did it all.”
The student, who already had a conventional part-time job, felt she had a better connection with older people than peers of her own age.
So she decided to take the plunge and seek out a sugar daddy: “It was that feeling of being wanted that a lot of other uni students can’t give a girl because they are immature”.
She only met one man off the site. She was 18 and he was about 43. They met at his house, alone, where they drank and watched television.
I was very nervous, but he was kind to me, he made me feel really comfortable.
I only saw him a few times. I didn’t consent to sleeping with him, and he gave me £250.
‘Something had to happen’
The student we spoke to admitted she had never mentioned her sugar daddy experience to her parents.
“I think my family would react really badly so I’d be a bit ashamed and embarrassed,” she said. “I told my friends there were a few judgements but some were curious about it.”
Although those behind Seeking Arrangement claim it is safe, those entering into a sugar daddy relationships need to be careful.
Despite agreed arrangements between both parties, many worry sex will be expected and sometimes forced.
The student stated: “The fear was like you knew something had to happen whilst you were there – and these men know that and are confident to make a move.”
“Students understand the importance of a degree but with the magnitude of debt that may follow them after graduating, they are being forced to find alternative methods to finance their education,” said Seeking Arrangement founder Brandon Wade..
“Sugar daddies not only provide financial relief, but mentor these students on how to manage their finances and elevate their typical uni lifestyle.”
There are now more than 500,000 sugar baby students in the UK.
Sugar babies and daddies
A sugar baby is the receiver, and receives anything from cash and gifts to material benefits or financial support, often in exchange for company, sex or intimacy. Although often confused as an escort, sugar babies are no prostitute or call girl but a part of an unconventional relationship.
Between the two parties an agreement is made which includes both financial and intimacy boundaries, such as if they are going to interact sexually and how often they will meet.
From a monthly allowance or less regular sums or treats, sugar babies make it clear what they want out of the arrangement, with the average sugar baby taking around £2,000 a month.
Seeking Arrangement website