STUDENTS seeking ‘sugar daddies’ due to financial hardship have been advised that there are welfare funds available to those in need, and have been warned not to “put themselves in any potentially uncomfortable or dangerous situation for any financial means.”
According to the US-based website, |http://www.seekingArrangement.com|seekingArrangement.com}, nearly 100 female students at the University of Limerick signed up with their ‘sugar daddy’ site last year to help them pay third level fees, such as rent, accommodation, registration fees and transport costs.
In all, the site claims to have 638 students based in Limerick on their books - including 389 from UL, 215 from Limerick Institute of Technology and 34 from Mary Immaculate College.
Emma Porter, the president of the students’ union at UL, said: “To be honest, this is not something we were aware of in the SU. We would strongly encourage any student struggling financially to come in and speak to us. We endeavour to do our best to support our students. We offer financial aid in terms of hardship loans and childcare bursaries.
“We’d encourage all our students to be careful with the personal information they disseminate on all types of social media. ULSU hopes that none of our students would put themselves in any potentially uncomfortable or dangerous situation for any financial means,” she said.
Ms Porter added that last semester alone they provided over €40,000 in financial aid to students.
While UL saw the largest increase with 93 students signing up last year, 51 students at LIT joined within the past 12 months, along with seven from Mary Immaculate College.
In May last, they disclosed that close to 500 female students across the three Limerick colleges have signed up with their site, and that number continues to rise, even following the graduation of students who may no longer require their services.
Overall, the number of Irish students who have signed up to the site has increased by 17% in the last year, they claim.
Dublin Institute of Technology comes in second place after UL with 81 sign-ups, while University College Dublin has 79 students seeking sugar daddies. Trinity College Dublin has the most students signed up to the site, with 397 students seeking a sugar daddy.
A spokesperson for UL said they would not be commenting on the figures. While many view it as unsavoury, those behind the site say the relationships formed are a “mutually beneficial arrangement” – with both parties laying out what they expect from the relationship, and what they can provide in return. “Most undergraduate students attending publicly funded third-level courses in Ireland do not have to pay tuition fees. However, many are still struggling to pay for their education, which includes registration fees that are expected to increase by 20 percent in the next two years,” said their PR manager Angela Jacob.
She said the average Irish student receives €6,200 in monthly allowance and gifts from her ‘sugar daddy’ to pay for expenses.
College students now make up over 42 percent of their total membership, making them the website’s the largest demographic.
Ms Jacob said they have seen a spike in Irish students signing up with them since the recession deepened.