09/02/2016 06:46 GMT | Updated 09/02/2016 06:59 GMT

A Quarter Of A Million Students Signed Up To Become 'Sugar Babies' In One Year Alone

Nearly a quarter of a million students have signed up to become "sugar babies" - where they are paid by a richer, older man to keep him company - in the past year.

The growing trend has been attributed to the rise in tuition fees, however some students are using the money to fund extravagant lifestyles.

More than 225,000 young women joined dating website in 2015, which hooks "sugar daddies" up to young women who wish to "experience a luxurious lifestyle and meet wealthy people on a regular basis".

Andrea Warren, a 19-year-old law and English student, moved out of her student flat and into a £300-a-week accommodation, paid for buy her sugar daddy, who also gives her a £500 allowance - every week.

"Last week I went to Gordon Ramsay's restaurant for a really expensive meal," she told the Daily Mail. "I also spent £6,000 in Harrods on a Versace bag, a top and some shoes. I get to do loads of stuff I could never usually afford. I go to Venice next month and I always stay in five-star hotels."

According to the site, there has been a 40% rise in students joining, a figure based on the number of university email addresses.

Kent University had the highest number of users - 724 - while Cambridge comes a close second with 704. Portsmouth saw the biggest increase in members, with 216 signing up in the past year.

Eva Tomkins, 20, a second-year advertising student at Manchester Metropolitan University, joined last year and told The Sun: I’ve earned about £700 and I’ve had things bought for me. I’ve had lots of people contact me.

"I’d say about one in five messages you get is sexually explicit but I just don’t reply. One guy paid me £200 to go for a drink with him. I met him twice so got £400. I’ve never felt threatened by anyone. I think most of the people are just lonely and want contact."

Brandon Wade, founder of the site, which was launched in 2006, said members make £2,000 a month on average.

"While some students choose debt or slog away at low-paid jobs, university sugar babies are afforded a higher quality lifestyle," Wade said. "It allows students to focus on their studies.

|Some see this as a controversial solution," he added. "However, has helped students graduate debt-free. That’s more than anyone can say of parliament or university bodies."

Clover Pittilla, a Bournemouth student, told Newsbeat: "Sometimes, sometimes [there is an expectation of sex]. But they are usually quite forward with that.

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A photo posted by Clover Pittilla (@cloverpittilla) on

"They usually say it straight away. If that's what they want then that is what they want.

"But if that is not what I want, that is not what I am going to do.

"But if they are attractive or whatever and you wouldn't mind, then why not."

In a previous interview with GQ, Wade defended his site saying: "Calling women 'prostitutes' who want something more out of a relationship than just this abstract notion of love is a comment and a stigma that is born from pure jealousy.

"The truth is, in my opinion, love is a concept that's been invented by poor people.

"These people aren't wealthy, they aren't beautiful, they aren't the cream of the crop - so what do they have? They have love. For everyone else there's our website."

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