The University of Exeter has climbed seven places in the rankings of ‘Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools’, a poll which tracks new university student signups to ‘Sugar Daddy’ dating services in the UK, according to website SeekingArrangement.com.
‘Sugar Daddy’ websites, of which SeekingArrangement.com is the largest, featured prominently in the national press last year. The service is designed to arrange ‘mutually beneficent relationships’ between wealthy clients who pay ‘sponsor money’ (on average around five thousand pounds a month) to ‘Sugar Babies’. Last year SeekingArrangement placed Exeter as having the 15th highest number of sign-ups in the country, with 129 students using the service. The highest number of signups in the country was the University of Cambridge, with 168 students signing up.
While Exeter has climbed in the national rankings to 8th, the number of new student ‘Sugar Babies’ from the university has declined slightly, to 122. The highest number of signups this year came from the University of Kent, where 208 students are members of the US-based website. The website now claims that over a million students worldwide are members, making up the largest demographic in their membership of ‘over 2.7 million’.
Sites such as SeekingArrangements are frequently accused of representing a form of prostitution, a claim which the websites strongly deny, instead pointing out the consensual nature of the relationships and insisting that their members are ‘intelligent, goal-oriented ladies’. However, after the revelations last year, Exeposé featured an article written by an anonymous former ‘Sugar Baby’ (Issue 605) who slammed the service for its ‘purely financial’ nature – with women as the ‘service or product’.
The ranking formed part of a press release received by Exeposé, in which the advertising played heavily on the recent tuition fee increase. The website’s CEO, Brandon Wade, is quoted as ‘maintain[ing] there is a direct correlation between Sugar Baby sign-up increase and the approved tuition maximums that took effect in 2012’. The copy suggested that ‘Sugar Daddy’ services provided a genuine method for ‘resourceful’ students to afford university tuition costs – as opposed to ‘privileged’, ‘underfunded’ and ‘intelligent’ students who have ‘parents’ ‘grants’ and ‘scholarships’, respectively.
Simon Wright, Deputy Director of Academic Services, commented for the university on the story last year: “We would advise our students to be cautious about entering into such arrangements. There are more conventional ways to find financial support – the access to learning fund can assist students, largely through non-repayable grants. The University has many scholarships and bursaries which are available.”
Vanessa Tracey, a Second Year English student, commented: “It is alarming that female students are increasingly engaging in ‘Sugar Daddy’ arrangements for easy money. Although students are conscientiously signing up to SeekingArrangement.com, being a ‘Sugar Baby’ places young women under certain amounts of sexual pressure, and potential dangerous situations”.
Alex Carden, Features Editorbookmark me