POLITICIANS have called for an investigation into a website which introduces Scottish cash-strapped female students to “sugar daddies” in an effort to help them cover university costs.
The SeekingArrangement website claims the average “college Sugar Baby” receives approximately £5,000 per month to cover the cost of tuition, books and living expenses.
The website revealed yesterday that the University of Edinburgh is the latest Scottish university to make it on to their annual “Top 20 Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools” in the UK.
It said there had been a 222 per cent increase in female student sign-ups from the university since April 2012, putting it in 8th place with 148 new members in the UK league table.
The university is one of three north of the Border on the list. The others are Glasgow Caledonian which is ranked fifth and St Andrews ninth.
The site describes “sugar daddy dating” as a “mutually beneficial arrangement” between “seekers and finders” where the “sugar babies” state the amount of money they expect to earn from the relationship and the “sugar daddies” state their budget.
Brandon Wade, chief executive officer and founder of the US-based site, which has two million members worldwide with 44 per cent of them students, said: “While some may argue that these women are just using men for their own personal gain, I believe that they are proactive in pursuing a higher education.
“College should be an opportunity to expand the mind and experience new things.
“Unfortunately, because of the of recent tuition hikes, the college experience has become greatly unbalanced.”
But Liz Smith, MSP, Scottish Conservative education spokeswoman said that such sites could put female students at risk.
“I do not think I will be alone in having deep-seated concerns about this. I am sure there will be many parents, members of staff and indeed many students themselves who will rightly be very wary of the approach of this type of website,” she said.
“Sadly, there have been other circumstances where the police have been called in to investigate similar website activity and there is clearly a matter of concern about the reported growth-rate of female students wanting to make use of these social networking sites.”
Labour MSP Neil Findlay, a member of the education committee, said: “The company may like to spin this as students ‘being proactive in pursuing a higher education’ but I am very concerned that this may take are more sinister turn.
“Young people may be vulnerable to older men who may have less than altruistic motives behind their apparent generosity. The reality is Mr Wade’s company is making money out of a system that could be putting young students in danger.”
A spokeswoman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “We will investigate if and when we receive a complaint.”
Last year, an investigation into the Sponsor-AScholar.co.uk website which claimed female students could earn around £15,000 a year for having “discreet adventures with businessmen” led to an arrest of a man in London.
Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Schools, determined by number of new sign-ups in 2012:
1 University of Cambridge168
2 London School of Economics163
3 University of Kent160
4 University of Nottingham155
5 Glasgow Caledonian154
6 University of Southampton153
7 Oxford Brookes University150
9 St. Andrews147
10 University College London140