This was revealed in a research study as concerns grow for a generation saddled with unmanageable debts as a result of rising tuition fees and sky-high living costs.
Answering questions for a research project conducted by London South Bank University with The Independent, most former and current students said they would consider exchanging their time and company with a stranger in return for help financing their studies.
The survey, which was a blind poll posted on The Independent, attracting 1477 participants, found just under 70 percent admitted to feeling stressed over money, with 53 percent having to take up a full or part-time job alongside their studies.
At least 88 percent said they would be somewhat interested in having someone else paying for their education, with 52 percent admitting they would be “very interested”.
Commenting on the findings, Shelly Asquith, National Union of Students vice-president for welfare, said: “In the context of rising tuition fees, rising rents and the scrapping of maintenance grants, it is no wonder that students are increasingly looking for new ways to fund their degrees.”
Of the 920 participants who answered the question: “How far would you have gone for a free education supplied by someone who you were attracted to?”, 75 percent said they would have at least given up some of their time to a sugar daddy figure.
University project researchers Dr Julia Shaw and Gemma Daglish said respondents were willing to go “way further” than they had expected.
Analysing the findings, they said: “What does it mean? We don’t know yet, but openness to the idea of becoming a sugar baby is far higher than we had predicted.
“Sugar baby” sounds a lot better than “prostitute” or “escort”,” the authors added.
“What if we had asked people whether they were willing to become prostitutes for a free education?
“Do you think fewer people would have agreed? We think so.”
A growing number of young people are believed to have at least considered becoming a sugar baby – someone who offers their company to a well-off, often older, man or woman, who in turn takes care of them financially.
Leading sugar daddy app, Seeking Arrangement, last year claimed it had almost a quarter of a million UK students on its books – a 40 percent increase on the same time period two years ago.
Responding to the poll run by The Independent, which had a mixed sample of 52 percent female and 45 percent male participants, 31 percent said they would have had sex with someone they were attracted to in exchange for a free education.
This rate dropped when participants were asked how far they would be willing to go when they were not attracted to the provider, however, almost two-thirds said they would be willing to enter into some degree of sugar baby arrangement, and willingness to have sex as part of the arrangement was marked at 16 percent.
Student funding appeared to play a significant part in students’ responses, with 55 percent of participants indicating that a drop or cessation of their student funding would make it more likely for them to enter into a sugar baby arrangement.
Overall, most participants said they were at least a bit interested, and one in five said they were “very interested” in becoming sugar babies.