Sex for tuition fees: Are universities just refusing to face up to the facts?

Institutions ‘bury heads in sand’ over students' sex work

Student sex work could be contributing hundreds of millions of pounds a year towards the higher education economy, according to researchers who claim that institutions are more concerned about preserving their image than investigating the issue.

The first academic study of its kind suggests that as many as 6 per cent of students could now be employed in part-time sex work such as pole or lap dancing, stripping, escorting or prostitution to help fund their studies.

Based on the results of a questionnaire completed by 200 students at 29 UK institutions, academics from the universities of Kingston and Leeds investigated the links between health, sexual abuse history and financial circumstances. Their research, published in the journal Sex Education, found that the “higher education economy” could be gaining up to £355m a year (an average of £2.15m per institution) from the sex industry.

The researchers claimed their work had been delayed because of concerns raised before receiving “ethical clearance” to conduct the study. They blamed a reluctance by academic management to sanction investigations into student sex work.

“Objections were raised to asking questions [previously] cleared in the same institution and used in numerous previous studies by other authors. [As a result] the period of data collection was pushed back to a time when many students were unavailable through being off campus or on holiday,” the authors said.

They claimed it was difficult to conduct research in institutions which “now see themselves as corporations” because publicity about student sex workers could “not only harm their public image but affect their income from prospective ‘customers’.” The authors said the figures could represent a “conservative estimate” because of the absence of phone-sex workers in the sample.

“While there may always have been some incidental student presence in the industry… there can be little doubt that the growing impoverishment of the student population has [coincided] with a growth in the number of student sex workers,” they added.

Dr Ron Roberts, of Kingston University, the study’s lead author, said too little was being done to help students tempted into sex work. “Everybody knows this goes on,” he said.

“They are just burying their heads in the sand. It is a student welfare issue. Anyone with an ounce of common sense can see that.”

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Cloud ERP Solution Provide...

Guru Careers: Junior Designer / Design Graduate

£18 - 20k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Junior Designer / Design Graduate to...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral