The Hidden Impact of Rising PSE Costs for Students
Over the past several decades in Canada, tuition rates and student debt levels have both increased substantially. Yet,Â I am not aware of much research seeking to assess either how exactly this impacts students, or how precisely students are making ends meet. A recent article in the Huffington Post–though not focused on Canada–sheds some light on this phenonenon. The article looks at the issueÂ young studentsÂ (in both the United States and parts of Europe) financingÂ theirÂ post-secondary education (PSE)Â with the help of sex work.
The article profilesÂ a web site called SeekingArrangement.com. According to the web site’s founder:
-Thirty-five percentÂ of the site’s 800,000 members are students.
-The web site–among other things–provides an opportunity for “men and women living through toughÂ economic times to afford college.”
-Over the past five years, the site has seen a 350 percent increase in memberships forÂ college students, from roughly 38,000Â in 2007 toÂ roughly 180,000Â today.
The article also reports on similar web sites, such as SeekingTuition.com, which markets its services to college students who wish to meet “that special someone to help…with books, dorm, rent or tuition…”
The article further points to recent research showing thatÂ roughly one-third of university students in Berlin and Paris respectively report that they “would consider sex work as a viable means of financing their studies.” The study in question also finds thatÂ “[t]hirty percent of students working in the sex industry [a]re in debt.” One of the study’s authors states:
“It’s possible that because educational reforms have increased student workloads, they have less time to earn money…Coupled with higher
student fees, in this instance, leads students into prostitution.”
I do notÂ know to what extent sex work is beingÂ done by university or community college students in Canada. Nor do I wish to pass judgement on anyone who works as a sex worker.Â That said, I do feel it important for Canadians to be fully aware of all possible consequences of both rising tuition fees and rising student debt levels.
Nick Falvo is a Calgary-based research consultant. He has a PhD in public policy.