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Student sex work ‘must be choice, never a necessity’

Friday 27 March 2015 NUS Wales

Significant numbers of students are turning to sex work in order to avoid debt and cover basic living expenses, a groundbreaking new report from Swansea University and NUS Wales has found.

Nearly five per cent of UK students have worked in the sex industry and nearly 22 per cent of students have considered working in the sex industry.

Rosie Inman, NUS Wales Women’s Officer, said she wanted to ensure the financial accessibility of university is such that sex work is a choice and never a necessity. Our research shows students are generally living below the breadline as the cost of living has spiralled and financial support frozen.

Rosie welcomed the wide-ranging report into the extent, needs, and motivations for student sex work as a 'valuable piece of research' that allows the higher education sector and all of its partners to implement meaningful and positive change for student sex workers. She went on to say:

'NUS Wales recognises that sex work can be a choice for students, as the nature of the work allows them the flexibility to keep up with the rigours of study, while funding their living costs. However we are concerned that so many students reported that covering basic living expenses was a strong factor in their decision to enter sex work.

'We are pleased to see universities throughout Wales have taken part in the research. The findings have demonstrated universities offer a number of services of direct benefit to student sex workers including financial support and the welfare of students. The research highlights how these services are relied upon more by students involved in sex work than other students and are deserving of further investment, particularly counselling and wellbeing services.

'As a result of this research, the need for university policy or guidance on how to support sex workers is clear. Prior to this, there has been no research substantial enough to base services on. Going forward, NUS Wales supports further training of the sector to address this gap. This training must be student-centered and ensure staff are able to support students and that feelings of stigma that students experience are not reinforced. Those students working towards certain vocational degrees must also receive support.

'The main priority must be to maintain the wellbeing of students involved in sex work, not to stigmatise them.'