Sex, Lies, Sponsors, and Scholars: Student Prostitution in the 21st Century…
The fear of educational debt is now so tangible in the U.K that you could cut it with a knife, and feed pieces of it back to the Secretary of State for Education.
Okay tuition fees have gone up. I know this, because besides everything else I do, I am a full time student. Tuition fees for home (non international) students, have soared from around £3000 per year on average, to around £9000 per year. Some students do not feel as though they can afford to take out the student loans to cover the costs, and then end up with large debts at the end of the 3-5 years of their degree programme. It would seem as though desperation is driving some of them into the prostitution industry, and all for the sake of paying their fees.
If I cast my mind back to the nineties, I can remember images of delirious young women in America, on the Ricki Lake and Jerry Springer shows, insisting that the only way they could put themselves through university was to have sex for money. It baffled me back then, and I’m still curious about the idea of it today. “Go Get a job at McDonald’s” the crowd would jeer, but the young women, resilient to all reason, would shake their heads until their wigs fell off. Additionally, they were always wearing garish make-up and sunglasses in an effort to disguise their identities. All to no avail, because anyone that knew them well enough, would know who they were, underneath the accidental Halloween costumes. I’m guessing they returned to lectures on the Monday morning, to quite a few suspicious glances from people in the room.
We can compare those stories to what is happening now in the U.K. The increase in tuition fees and fear of debt is possibly what made young women in England seek financial assistance from an organisation called as Sponsor A Scholar. Judging from media reports, the company may have been in operation during sometime in 2012. It was set up by forty-year-old Mark Lancaster who posed as a scholar from a top British university. He stated that he could match the young women up with wealthy “sponsors” that would pay as much as £15000 a year in scholarships. In return the girls would have intimate liaisons with their sponsors. Lancaster “assessed” the women before he would let them join the books, and that consisted of taking them to a nearby flat and having sex with them, whilst he recorded it, with hidden cameras. What ever happened to exams as a form of assessment?
The women never received any remuneration from Lancaster or anyone else, because it was a fake company. Lancaster used it as a way of having sex with various women. He possibly observed the nation’s hysteria about the increase in tuition fees and guessed that young women would be desperate enough to sign up to his would-be organisation. He guessed correctly. Since then I have heard people argue that, had Lancaster actually ran it as a legitimate company, he would have made a huge fortune. Something tells me that they are also correct.
Academics from Kingston and Leeds universities conducted a study into the student sex work phenomenon, across 29 U.K. higher education institutions and made a number of key findings. Lead by Dr Ron Roberts, it revealed that 6% of students (which could equate to around 149, 000 pupils, based on the 2013 HESA student figures) may be part time sex workers. According to The Independent’s Jonathan Brown, the research was published in the Sex Education journal, and stipulates that higher education institutions could be making up to £355 million annually, or £2.15m per institution, from the sex industry.
If universities are aware that young women are supposedly in dire straits, why aren’t they addressing these problems? Would it mean a temporary shortfall in their profits? Or perhaps, they don’t believe that there is a genuine issue. Perhaps they believe that students don’t have legitimate reasons to undertake sex work, and it is simply a lazy and easy way out of debt.
If students wilfully prefer, or enjoy sex work compared to other forms of labour, then that is another matter altogether. That being said, I think we can safely assume that home students don’t actually need to engage in sex work to pay their tuition fees. After all what is the worst that can happen when you take out a student loan?
For a start you are only obligated to repay student loans if you are in a job, and earning more than £21’000 a year. Nor will you have to repay them, in the event of you needing to register a permanent disability.
According to Monster.co.uk, the average U.K salary for a woman is around £24’000 per annum. This amounts to a repayment of just £30 a month of student loans, as per the government’s repayment schedule. Now isn’t that a really small price to pay, compared to a lifetime of recurring nightmares, that remind you that you used to sleep with bald, sweaty, creepy old men to make ends meet? Because, rest assured, the men who are going to pay you for your services won’t look like Ben Affleck or Denzel Washington.
If in the worse case scenario, you pass away before you finish repaying Student Loans, they will cancel the debt. They won’t posthumously revoke your degree because you never finished paying for it. And you would have still have had the benefit of your degree and education, whilst you were alive.
In my mind, the tuition loan is a better debt, than taking out a hire purchase (HP) on a car, which many people in the country have no reservations about doing. I am guessing it is because people will see them in their nice cars first, and think about their qualifications later. The world’s economy is built on debt. Very few people are able to pay for their houses, cars, or even their holidays upfront. Many payments are spread out over the course of several years, or a lifetime, for things like mortgages. However people still survive, and I think that you will too.
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