Yesterday the Independent published an exclusive story about students turning to sex work to make ends meet ‘Students are turning to sex work for extra money but experts warn universities are ignoring the issue Exclusive: The financial situation for students is getting more and more bleak’ Independent 27th December 2018.
This is not really a new story and prostitution is surely as old as the hills. But its increased prevalence amongst students is causing some institutional blushes. The availability of various apps and so called ‘sugar daddy’ web sites makes it more accessible whilst still within the bounds of the current law. It is worth noting that paying for sex is not in itself a criminal offence in most of the UK (Northern Ireland made paying for sex an offence in 2015). However, soliciting, kerb crawling and ‘pimping’ are offences. When I was a student back in the early 1970s I was aware of some such activity. One fellow student was working as a ‘pimp’ at weekends in central London. Another student was a ‘page three’ girl on several occasions. She told me that the pay was “too good to turn down”. I was also under great financial stress but indicated that I had no such dilemma as I was not in a position to choose. Nevertheless, the moral dilemma that she faced was something I would never wish to judge. Those that do seek to judge should first look at the circumstances.
Commuter students missing out.
The plight of students that have to commute to their university to study was well laid out in a report from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) earlier in December. They have followed this up, last week and then this week, with a series of fascinating case studies that fill in more detail. The gap between those with family resources and those without is stark.
Yet the conclusion is also somewhat defeatist.
“Unfortunately, it is not always possible to untangle the impact of each of these characteristics from the significance of a commute.”
One thing is certain. If the inherent unfairness of a widening gap in a two tier higher education system is not addressed, then more embarrassing stories will emerge in 2019.
 TEFS notes that the OECD states that anything up top 30 hours per week is classed as part-time working. Some students exceed this and many more have to add travel time that detracts from studying. In 2017, the part-time employment rate in the UK was 23.5% of employment.