University students are turning more and more to wealthy sugar daddies to help pay for everything from education to entertainment. Most of this ‘sugaring’ is facilitated through websites. For a monthly fee, Sugar Babies and Sugar Daddies (as well as the occasional Sugar Mummy) can post a profile, make contact with other users and set up meetings, just like a more traditional dating website.  Statistics released this week show the number of uni students who joined international sugar daddy dating site SeekingArrangement.com has surged by 154 percent.  Most members are from the US but profiles have also been submitted from Australia, Europe, Southeast Asia and India.  Now this new “sugar daddy” trend seems to have conquered Australia coast to coast. The website, SeekingArrangement.com, has released a list entitled “Australias Top 20 Fastest Growing Sugar Baby Colleges of 2012”, which shows the universities where alternative fee-help is most frequently sought.  While the University of Sydney topped the list with 207 students hooking up with a wealthy daddy last year, there were 45 students at the University of Queensland “seeking a mutually beneficial relationship” last year, and 37 at Griffith.  Figures revealed 44 sugar babies registered from the Gold Coast campus. Numbers were slightly lower at Bond University with 21 users, and Southern Cross University (SCU) had 13 students looking for a sugar daddy.  University life is many things – informative, fun, challenging or interesting, but it’s also expensive. There’s the cost of the subjects, the text books, the transport to and from uni, the accommodation, the meals, and in many cases, the partying. Australia’s university fees have increased by 30 per cent over the past six years for local students and tuition for international students has increased 166 per cent since 2002, according to the International Education Advisory Council.  So while some people pick up their resume and go in search of a part time job to fund it all, others are clicking their mouse in search of a full time sugar daddy. The cost of a single subject at Bond University is upwards of $3600 while Griffith and SCU students pay anywhere from $500 to just over $3500. 
Seeking Arrangement is an American company that connects sugar daddies with sugar babies, and staff noticed a spike in university students signing up three years ago. “Australia is the fourth largest country for sugar baby memberships,” Seeking Arrangement’s Leroy Velasquez says. “There are one million college sugar babies worldwide, and the University of Wollongong is ranked 18th in Australia with 45 students joining in 2013.”  According to company figures, there are roughly 7680 sugar babies in Queensland seeking various types of arrangements, and 530 “sugar daddies” and “sugar mommies” willing to offer their support.  The numbers were far greater in Sydney, where there were 14, 500 sugar babies, 800 sugar daddies and mommies last year. Melbourne had 9210 sugar babies, and 640 sugar daddies and mommies.  An average sugar baby’s age is 19-26 and the average sugar daddy is as young as 39.  A spokeswoman for the University of Queensland said the matter wasn’t something the institution was familiar with, or would make comment on. 
“We target generous benefactors who can contribute to the lives of attractive members. The site says sugar daddies wanting to apply from Australia should “always be respectful and generous”.  “They give monthly allowances, gifts, take them on trip and improve their lifestyle. “Members create profiles about themselves and state how much they’re willing to give or receive, which is usually between $3000-$20,000 per month.”  What this money buys you is all part of the negotiation, but Leroy is quick to point out it can be anything from a platonic friendship to wanting a wife, and it’s not prostitution. In fact, he says many arrangements lead to successful long-term relationships.  According to some fairly dubious figures there are more than 15,000 Sugar Daddies in Australia looking for love online.  A whopping 8400 older Australian dudes with big wallets have chosen to hook up with an American gal, according to SeekingArrangement.com — the online hook-up forum for people with kooky preferences.  The site boasts 900,000 ‘Sugar Babes’ from the US, while only 100,000 Aussie girls have taken the bait.  But to add insult to injury, the site claims American women are more popular because they are more like a ‘vacation’.  To many of us this is a gross concept. However the trend is growing.
Wollongong youth psychologist Virginia Williams has some concerns. “It’s hard when we look at relationships not to put judgement on the way they come together, but if there is equitable and open negotiation, that’s something we see as crucial to all successful intimate relationships. My concern is for vulnerable younger women who find themselves in a position where they need to get through study or a challenge where finances are a barrier, and an arrangement is struck up when there’s not a level playing field. Whenever there’s vulnerability, it’s hard for people to act as equals so that strikes a chord with me.”  Seeking Arrangement’s research says the average sugar baby’s age is 19-26, and the average sugar daddy is a surprisingly young 39. The benefactor usually earns, on average, $250,000 a year. Leroy says the wide age difference, nor the fact the relationship starts out as a mutually beneficial service, has any bearing on whether the relationship goes the distance. “The fact of the matter is, a lot of lasting relationships are rooted in their sense of security. You’re supposed to provide for someone you care about and these women appreciate that. It encourages men to be more chivalrous and generous with what they’ve earned, and [both parties] can end the arrangement whenever they like.”  Virginia Williams says there is a lingering concern about what brings the students to a sugar daddy relationship in the first place and how this affects their actions. “It does seem like participants are initiating it themselves, but there’s a big robust discussion to be had about whether the financial stress that someone’s under reduces their ability to make decisions that are best for themselves.” 
Company spokeswoman Jennifer Gwynn said that these “sugar babies” stood to receive approximately $3000 a month in allowances and gifts from a willing Sugar Daddy to help cover tuition and living expenses. But she said it was not prostitution. “As you can imagine, we get this question a lot,” Ms Gwynn said.  “The key difference between being a sugar baby and being a prostitute is the relationship. A prostitute is conducting a transaction between a customer. Our site is a dating website for people seeking a certain type of relationship. The two are completely different.” Ms Gywnn said men and women engaging in these “sugar” relationships agreed on the terms of their arrangement up front, and in the case of users looking for educational support, that could mean payments for textbooks and other learning materials.  “Sex is never required, though it may be aspired to,” she said. “The reality is, most sugar relationships resemble a typical boyfriend-girlfriend type relationship, with an added financial component.” 
One Gold Coast woman, who wanted to be known as Annaliese, 39, told Gold Coast Bulletin that she was in an arrangement with one sugar daddy for nine years.  ‘I was drawn to it in the first place because I wanted to meet a better class of people – people I wouldn’t necessarily meet in my circle of friends,’ she told Gold Coast Bulletin. ‘They are normal, very successful and busy men – but they worry about the people who come into their lives – there’s not a lot of trust there.  ‘This way they can filter out the people they’re interested in before they reveal their identities. ‘It strikes me how lonely people are – they’re disconnected because of business and sometimes they just want to be friends.’ 
Where the sugar babies are: