Research from the University of Kingston found that the number of university students who knew someone who had worked in the sex industry to fund their studies had gone up from 3% to 25% in the past 10 years. Dr Ron Roberts, senior lecturer in Psychology, described the results as “worrying”. Additionally, the NUS say that the number of calls to their helpline regarding this issue has doubled in the last year. Swansea University has been given a £489,143 grant to enable it to conduct a study into how many students are working in the sex industry in Wales and to try to find out why.
Sarah Walker, representative of the English Collective of Prostitutes (ECOP), which campaigns for rights for sex workers, said: “I remember there was a group of women working together as prostitutes who were students and if anything happened to them they were terrified to come forward …they were worried that they might get kicked off their course or not be able to get a good job in the future”. The government is primarily held responsible for this problem, with the rising cost of education meaning women are turning to work in the sex industry to stay in education. The same cannot be said for male students, but other forms are used by men to earn money, such as gambling.
A Department for Education spokesman said the government was targeting £180 million a year in financial support to “the most vulnerable 16 to 19-year-olds to help them continue their studies. It is down to schools and colleges themselves to award bursaries to young people who need the most help.”