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According to reports, students from 20 British universities are joining dating Web sites matching young women with older men, in an attempt to raise money to pay off student loans and other debts, including tuition fees of £9,000 and above.
A Web site called seekingarrangement.com has released data about its members, which shows an increasing number of students, particularly girls, have approached the site. According to the Daily Mail, most of these members are recent graduates who indicate growing debt pressure and unemployment as the reasons for joining the site. The arrangement, apparently, is one between a "sugar daddy" and a "sugar baby" and sees the young woman provide a romantic relationship, in exchange for the boyfriend taking care of some of her bills.
According to the data released, Nottingham University tops the list, with 61 members last year alone, followed by the University of Kent with 57 and the London School of Economics with 51 members. The site advertises itself as offering "mutually beneficial relationships".
One of these so called "sugar babes", name not mentioned, revealed that she had to join the site because of huge debts.
"I was up to my eyes in debt and had no chance of paying any of it back in the short term while I tried to make it in film. A friend from college had joined one of these sites and encouraged me to give it a go because she knew that I had always been attracted to older men. I was extremely reluctant at first but then I thought I would give it a go. I did a bit of modelling for fashion magazines in my first two years at university, so I was confident that I would find the right sugar daddy. I wasn't disappointed," one of the site's "sugar babies" told the Daily Mail, on condition of anonymity.
"We entered into what the site calls a mutually beneficial arrangement. We were boyfriend and girlfriend but I was paid £2,500 a month, which was more than enough to cover my bills while I pursued my career in film. We saw each other for six months while I acquired the skills which enabled me to get a full-time job. In the end, it fizzled out and we split up amicably but I have no regrets about going on the site," she added.
As the numbers of members continue to grow, the site is clearly making considerable profits.
"Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded. Your new tuition fees have been great for business. We've had a huge influx of beautiful, highly educated young women. The high levels of graduate unemployment have meant a lot of beautiful women are joining us after finishing their studies. They are forced to take internships or jobs which are very badly paid as they start out on careers. They need a generous sugar daddy to help them through this time. They get taken to places they could never afford in a million years - and receive financial help through what can be a difficult time in anyone's career," the Web site's owner, Brandon Wade, told the Daily Mail. In fact, Wade added he was looking to expand to other countries.