Figures show that the percentage of those considering sex work or adult work in a “cash crunch” has nearly doubled from last year.
Statistics given exclusively to Sky News by Save the Student show that 10% would consider sex work in a financial emergency.
The figure was 6% in his 2019 student money survey.
In another study, 7% of students said they actually turned to sex or adult work during the pandemic to bridge the gap.
About 77% were women and 22% were men, with 1% preferring not to say.
Rose, who isn’t her real name, turned to online sex work after she effectively lost her restaurant job following a foreclosure.
She says she is also classified as high risk for COVID-19, so working on a subscription website was “safer” and “financially easier.”
The student, who has yet to graduate, says some parents are unaware of her recent adventure in sex work because they wouldn’t understand.
She explains that without the work, which she describes as “performing and modeling”, she “would have difficulties” financially.
“Nothing below the waist” is the line Rose says she hasn’t crossed.
The woman, 20, says she “loves” her new source of income and calls it “one of the best things” she’s ever done.
“I was anorexic and now I’m the most confident I have ever had in my life,” she told Sky News.
“(It’s) very, very liberating. I control my own content and my own body and I can do with it what I want because you can set your own levels. “
Her boyfriend knows his job and supports him. She says she earns hundreds, sometimes thousands of pounds a month.
Rose says she feels safe “most of the time” and that the website’s security features help keep her secure.
She says that with an unencrypted website, she “had something leaked on a very dark site … which scared me.”
The hospitality and retail sectors have been hit particularly hard by job losses, two areas in which students tend to find part-time work.
As a result, many have been affected by a loss of income, as well as a decrease in financial support from their parents due to the deteriorating economy.
Tom Allingham of Save the Student says the number of people turning to sex work could increase in the coming year.
He describes “one of the most financially difficult years for students in a very long time”.
“We’re definitely troubled by this because, like we say, there’s no problem with people doing sex work if it’s something they want to do.
“But if it’s something they are forced to do for absolute lack of money, it’s something to be concerned about. ”
He wants to see more financial support for government students and also for universities to create environments where students of sex or adult work “don’t feel alone”.
Jessica Hyer Griffin set up what is currently the country’s only student sex worker support group, Manchester-based Support for Student Sex Workers.
She says: “There has been an overall increase in sex work overall, probably because people have been made redundant from their jobs… and Universal Credit is not paying enough for people to live.
“Which is positive because sex work is increasingly accepted as work, but it comes with its risks. Fewer clients means people are more likely to accept riskier clients. ”
She says many sex workers love their jobs and choose to do their jobs – but “for extremely poor people there isn’t always a choice.”
Her organization offers community support as well as online support sessions or telephone help.
Support for Student Sex Workers provides advice on debt issues, protection and careers.