Dozens of University of Manchester students signed up to a ‘sugar daddy’ dating website last year, at a time of rising tuition and living costs
SeekingArrangement.com has disclosed figures for ‘the fastest growing Sugar Baby schools in the UK’. The universities are ranked according to new sign-ups for 2013, and the University of Manchester is third with 175. Russell Groups make up half of the 20 universities cited, and the University of Kent topped the table with 208 students signing up to be ‘sugar babies’.
SeekingArrangement.com, matches up wealthy older men, and young women, in what CEO and founder Brandon Wade has coined ‘mutually beneficial relationships’. It allows anyone with a university email address to sign up for free.
The site claims that a ‘sugar baby’ can expect to receive on average, an allowance of around £5,000 a month from her sugar daddy, and that sex is not ‘necessary’ but ‘should be aspired to’.
‘Whether you’re looking for companionship or intimacy or caring friendship, or if you want your tuition paid, help with your career, financial help with your rent or cosmetic surgery, our website will help you search, match and find it’.
Last year the US-based site saw an increase in student membership by over 54 per cent, and as of the 1st January 2014 the site boasted 1 million student members worldwide. Wade believes this surge is inextricably linked with the rising cost of living and tuition fees. In an interview with The Huffington Post, he argued that, “The Student loans lead to endless debt which amounts to more than the average graduate who earns £21,000 can handle. Sugar Daddies provide real solutions to the problem of student debts.”
He continued further, saying that the website helps not only the individuals involved, but also governments.
“We are not only helping students achieve financial freedom, but also indirectly relieving the government from the burden of unpaid loans. If less students depended on loans and more graduates paid off their loans, then the overall budget for higher education would decrease dramatically.”
Speaking to The Mancunion, General Secretary of the Students’ Union Grace Skelton voiced concern for the students signing up to the website, “Manchester has the highest student population in the country outside of London and with students increasingly struggling to make ends meet it is an obvious place for these companies to target.
“I cannot comment on whether the website is exploitative of individual women students, because I haven’t spoken to any users. The website itself does perpetuate rigid and outdated gender norms which I personally believe encourages the exploitation of women generally.
“My main concern is that the website doesn’t seem to have a policy or even advice about how users can make sure they remain safe. If anyone has used this site, or similar sites, we would urge you to meet in a public place and text a friend to let them know where you are. If you have any concerns at all then come to our Advice Centre for free, impartial and anonymous advice.”