HARD up University of Worcester students struggling to pay tuition fees and living costs are turning to "sugar daddy" websites to help fund their studies, it has been claimed.
SeekingArrangement.com revealed 51 students from the city's university had signed up to the dating website giving it the dubious accolade of being the 19th fastest growing sugar baby school in the country.
And while it claimed there was "nothing seedy" about the service which matches young women to wealthy men, a University of Worcester spokeswoman said it did not endorse the site and worried for the safety of students who signed up.
The spokeswoman said: "All of our students are adults over the age of 18 but we would encourage them to think very carefully about which opportunities they choose to take to fund their time at university.
"We would urge students to consider the implications of subscribing to websites such as these, including consideration of the issue of personal safety.
"The University of Worcester does not promote or endorse this kind of activity, in the same way that it does not endorse pay day loans.
"Students who find themselves in financial difficulty should instead turn to the university’s own Student Support Service."
While SeekingArrangement.com claimed sugar daddies enjoyed being "benefactors, mentors or sponsors", the sugar babies could expect on average a £5,000 monthly allowance.
Though some may be sceptical, a spokeswoman said sex was not part of the arrangement between the couples.
"There is no seedy element to the site. What we have created is a quality and safe dating platform for the sugar daddy/sugar baby community.
"Arrangements are mutually beneficial relationships in which financial assistance and mentorship are exchanged for the ideal relationship.Sex is not part of this arrangement.
"In fact, soliciting on the site is strictly prohibited and immediate grounds for being kicked off the site. Escorts are not allowed on the site."
Brandon Wade, founder and CEO, said the American-based website had seen a boom in young women signing up to meet wealthy men since the hike in tuition fees took effect in 2012.
Mr Wade said: “Why hope for financial aid when you can guarantee it with a sugar daddy?
“The student loans lead to endless debt which amounts to more than the average graduate who earns £21,000 can handle.
"Sugar daddies provide real solutions to the problem of student debts.
“We are not only helping students achieve financial freedom but also indirectly relieving the government from the burden of unpaid loans.”
But the university said as students are fully eligible for the UK Government's student grant, fee waiver and loan support package, the vast majority of students would not have to find the money to fund their education before they attend university.
"Students also don’t need to pay a penny until they have left the course and are earning a good salary.
"There are loans and grants available to most students to cover tuition fees and cost of living expenses.
"The university is committed to supporting students who want to earn extra money, providing opportunities, through our Earn as you Learn scheme, which allow students to take on part-time roles at the university and elsewhere."
As of January 2013, there were a total of 155,000 sugar babies and 14,000 sugar daddies in the UK with students making up 42 per cent of the website's membership.