With university tuition fees on the rise the cost of getting a degree has soared over the past couple of years.
Now having to think about how they are going to fund their higher education it seems that some university students have found a way of footing the bill.
Female undergraduates are increasingly using ‘sugar daddy’ dating sites to meet rich older boyfriends as they struggle with debts which will average £53,000 for those starting degrees this year.
Growing numbers of girls are using the sites to hook up with rich older men to fund their studies as they are hit new tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year.
Dating site www.seekingarrangement.com has released figures showing the 20 most popular British universities - and the numbers of girls who have signed up in the last year.
Top is Nottingham University with 61 sign-ups, followed by the University of Kent (57) and London School of Economics (51). Cambridge University - recently voted the best in the world - came fourth with 46 students new signings.
Many SeekingArrangement members are recent graduates - often heavily debt and struggling to find work. The only work available for some is unpaid ‘internships’ which can last for as long as six months with no promise of paid work at the end.
Typical of these highly educated ‘sugar babies’ is Susannah*, 22, who is in her final year of a history degree at university in London and currently has debts of £26,000.
She joined the site because she wanted to meet rich, successful older men - and enjoy a life of luxury that she simply could not afford on her meagre student income.
Susannah said: "I haven't regretted it for a second - it has been one long crazy rollercoaster ride of fun.
"I have met some of the most amazing men I will ever meet in my life and, yes, I am not afraid to say, I have had some great sex."
Helen went on five dates with various CEOs and successful self-made businessmen before she met her first Mr Right, who we'll call Ian *, on the site last October.
She explained: "He was a really sexy 42-year-old guy who had split with his wife five years previously and was looking for some excitement in his life.
"He ran his own telecommunications company and was worth several million. He worked 16 hours a day and simply didn't have the time to meet new women.
"One absolute rule for him was that he would not date anyone at his work, so the only option was to go on the internet.
"What really turned him on was young women who are highly educated, so SeekingArrangement was perfect for him. There are a lot of undergraduates on the site.
"We had an amazing times. He took me to some of the most fabulous hotels in the world. We would have sex and then talk about whether Napoleon or Alexander the Great was the greatest military leader of all time." The relationship lasted until Christmas.
"We travelled all over Europe. His favourite hotel in London was the Lanesborough - the rooms there are gorgeous.
"He also took me to the Ritz in Paris, which has to be seen to be believed. And we also went to Madrid and Berlin.Everywhere we went, it was five star, no expense spared.
"Every weekend was like a little adventure. He would combine business with pleasure - and I was the pleasure."
Ian is typical of the men on SeekingArrangement which boasts 15 members of the famous Sunday Times Rich List among its members. Ian and Susannah agreed mutually to part at Christmas.
Women on the site can earn as much as £15,000 a month by linking up with the right sugar daddy. "The relationship had run its course," Susannah said. "We'd had a lot of fun but were both looking for someone new.
"His part gift to me was a bank transfer which made my eyes pop out."
Susannah has carried on seeing new men without finding what the site calls a 'mutually beneficial relationship.'
She said: "I have got intimate with a couple of lovely guys but, to be honest, I have been too busy preparing for my finals for a more meaningful commitment."
Susannah spoke out as figures from the Push university guide showed that students starting college this autumn will finish their degree with debts, on average, of £53,400 - double the figure for 2011 of £26,100.
The sharp rise is due to the impact of tuition fees which can be as much as £9,000 a year. Helen Croydon is the author of Sugar Daddy Diaries - a confessional memoir about her time dating older men.
Helen, 34, was on SeekingArrangement for 18 months and dated scores of older men. She said she was aware that lots of students were meeting men on the site.
"It is an easy way for well educated attractive girls to make money," she said. Lots of students are now doing it - and obviously tuition fees and the fact that it is so hard for graduates to find well paid work after leaving university are driving lots of women to these sites.
"What I would say to them quite clearly is: don’t do this if you are just looking for money.Do it if you are attracted to older men and are looking for companionship with someone who has money. If money is your only motivation you may be disappointed.
"It is degrading if money is all you are interested in. You need to want some adventure and fulfillment from it. " I dated scores of men on the site but only a few of these leads to relationships."
Helen studied Japanese at Sheffield University and pursued a career in accountancy before switching careers to work as a TV producer and author.
She spent years dating mega-successful rich men and attending highbrow sex parties as research for her book, published last year.
Students signing up with SeekingArrangement are automatically upgraded to a premium account and given a certified ‘college sugar babe’ stamp on their profile. Members with these stamps get 3 times more responses than regular female members of the site.
SeekingArrangement owner Brandon Wade said: !Over the past few years, the number of college students using our site has exploded."
He said 35 per cent of the site’s 50,000 UK members were students - and the numbers are growing all the time.
"Your new tuition fees have been great for business," he said. "We’ve had a huge influx of beautiful, highly educated young women.
"The high levels of graduate unemployment has meant a lot of beautiful women are joining us after finishing their studies.
"They are forced to take internships or jobs which are very badly paid as they start out on careers.
"They need a generous sugar daddy to help them through this time. They get taken to places they could never afford in a million years - and receive financial help through what can be a difficult time in anyone’s career."
Brandon Wade started the whole ‘sugar daddy’ dating phenomenon in 2006 in the States. It has grown so quickly that he has become a multi-million on the back of several dating sites which cater for older men who want to date beautiful young women.
He is massively expanding his operation overseas and is throwing a big European launch party at The Gore Hotel in London on May 20.
* Names have been changed
Dating site www.seekingarrangement.com released their figures to show which univsity students had signed up to the site.
University Ranking # Signups
1. The University of Nottingham 61
2. University of Kent 57
3. London School of Economics 51
4. University of Cambridge 46
5. University of Southampton 43
6. Oxford Brookes University 40
7. University of St Andrews 36
8. Glasgow Caledonian University 34
9. University College London 33
10. Brunel University, London 32
11. University of East London 30
12. Goldsmiths, University of London 29
13. University of Exeter 27
14. Birkbeck, University of London 26
15. University of Surrey 24
16. University of Leeds 23
17. City University London 21
18. London South Bank University 19
19. University of Westminister 18
20. Queen's University Belfast 18