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Growing Numbers of Students Using Prostitution to Pay Education Fees

December 14, 2015

finance, news

Image: Lamiavitadimerda ®'s

The National Union of Students has revealed, through an interview on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Breakfast programme, that, alarmingly, an increasing number of students in England are turning to prostitution to fund their way through higher education.

Speaking on the programme, Estelle Hart, the NUS’s national women’s officer, said:

“In an economic climate where there are very few jobs, where student support has been massively cut, people are taking more work in the informal economy, such as sex work.”

She also said:

“It’s all dangerous unregulated work, simply so people can stay in education.”

The shocking revelations come amid ongoing criticisms of the amount of money students are expected to pay to see themselves through higher education in England.

Whilst it’s easy to dismiss the claims as sensationalistic, it’s worth considering research that the University of Kingston published last year, which showed that the number of university students who knew someone who had worked in the sex industry to fund their studies had dramatically shot up from 3% to 25% over the last decade.

Sarah Walker, of the English Collective of Prostitutes, which runs a helpline for women within the industry, claimed that the volume of students getting in touch with them had doubled within the last twelve months. Whilst the figure had been growing gradually over the last decade, they claim to have received a record number of calls since the government’s announcement that English universities could begin to charge up to £9000 a year for tuition fees from next year.
Walker said:

“They (ministers) know that the cuts they’re making are driving women into things like sex work. It’s a survival strategy so we would hold the government responsible for that.”

Further instances have since emerged with one student claiming that she turned to escorting to get through her A-levels after her Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) was cut.

A spokesman speaking on behalf of the Department for Education claimed that they are doing what they can to support students financially:

“We are targeting £180m a year financial support at the most vulnerable 16 to 19-year-olds to help them continue their studies – with transitional funding for the students who were getting the top rate of EMA and part way through their studies.”

Adding:

“It is down to schools and colleges themselves to award bursaries to young people who need the most help. If students are really struggling financially, they need to speak directly to their tutors.”

What should the Government be doing to financially safeguard a young person’s education? Share your ideas in the comments section below.

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