Students turn to sex work to fund studies, says report

One in 20 students has worked in the sex industry according to a new survey of 6,750 students.

A three-year research project from Swansea University called The Student Sex work Project found that students are turning to sex work to fund basic living costs and lifestyle choices.

You can read the report here.

Of the 5% actively engaged in sex work*, 64% said they did it to fund lifestyle, 56% to pay basic living expenses, 45% to avoid debt and 39% to reduce debt at the end of the course.  

Meanwhile, a quarter of students (22%) surveyed admitted to considering sex work and surprisingly, perhaps, male sex workers outnumbered women sex workers.

Writers of the report are now urging universities to do more to support students.

Dr Tracey Sagar, who led the study, told The Press Association: “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.”       

The Project – which was funded by the Big Lottery fund – aims to develop a non-judgemental, anonymous and inclusive “e-health service” for students who work in the sex industry – one that would provide vital information, guidance and support.

The report is likely to resurrect debates around university fees – due to be a focus of the upcoming election. So far Labour has said it will reduce fees if it wins the election, while the Tories and Liberal Democrats are yet to announce plans.     

Definition of sex work

*‘Sex work’ is used as an umbrella term by the Project to include direct sex work, indirect sex work and auxiliary roles.

Sex work is defined as: prostitution; escorting; selling sexual services independently; selling sexual services in a brothel, massage parlour or sauna; a professional dominant or submissive.

Indirect sex work constitutes: acting in the porn industry; selling sex on chat phone lines; selling sexual services on the internet or webcam; erotic dancing; stripping; glamour modelling; naked butler.

While organisational and auxiliary roles include: escort agency manager; pimp; madam or manager in a brothel, sauna or massage parlour; driver for sex workers; receptionist in a brothel, sauna or massage parlour.

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