Students and phone sex

Are students turning to working as phone sex operators due to the rise in University fees?

The number of female students across the nation turning to phone sex as a way of alleviating their financial strain is steadily on the rise and has been for the past two years. The general consensus in society today views this as a very controversial and unethical avenue to take. Students attend University and take on the sky high fees to obtain a degree, investing in themselves and their future career prospects. However, students working as a phone sex operators during their several years of study to achieve this ambition could be a warning sign, a cry for help or an act of desperation as they struggle with their financial turmoil.

The mounting number of students turning to this part time job is already impacting on society, as many continue to work as phone sex operators full time on completion of their studies, essentially contradicting the point of attending University in the first instance as all degree or course prospects become abandoned. The volume of young women applying for phone sex operator positions possibly reflects our nations relaxed and open attitudes towards sex, which has sparked conflicting arguments on what may have caused phone sex to become such an attractive post for many young students.

Current phone sex operator and student Charlie* has been in the business since she began her University studies three years ago. Revealing how she felt intensely pressured into the business purely due to overwhelming University fees, is now thriving in the industry, claiming her debts are dwindling and love life still in-tact. Charlie* explained how working as a phone sex operator does require a great deal of commitment and dedication to function profitably within this role. The positive aspects of working as a phone sex operator include the flexibility of the job; with the luxury to pick and choose your own working hours to fit around hectic University time tables. Negatives include the unpredictability of the role, as no matter where you are or what environment you find yourself in, if you want to get paid you had better pick up. Charlie* justified the rationale behind her decision to become a phone sex operator, explaining how it is just a job, providing a service and how dependent on the individual, can be a  very cost effective and enjoyable profession.

The rise in female students turning to passionate phone calls for a pay rise, was possibly triggered by the Channel 4 show ‘My Phone Sex Secrets’ which filmed raunchy conversations young women are having with strangers which was broadcasted in March 2012.Although no data has been formally collated on the effects the show has had on financially struggling individuals, there are clues that strongly imply the show was responsible for the growing attraction into becoming a phone sex operator. Owner of one of the largest UK based phone sex companies Amanda*, stated that after the show was broadcasted, her company was inundated with applications from young women, particularly students. Amanda* firmly believes that the programme had obviously inspired girls to try their hand at working as a phone sex operator, as since the show aired her team are still sifting through hundreds of requests to join her team of operators.

In 2012, the BBC commissioned an investigation into students working in the sex industry and their findings were published in the Huffington Post. On one of our blog posts we have mentioned about, A spokeswoman from the ‘English collective of prostitution’ stated that students are not only turning to prostitution but also to working within the phone sex industry, which is a direct result of dealing with dire financial situations. This strongly implicates that the rocketed University fees are the primary trigger for the popularity of phone sex. The investigation also revealed that figures have shown the number of young girls’ opting to work as phone sex operators have doubled over the past two years; correlating in parallel harmony with when the fees were originally hiked up.

Predictably, Universities have become concerned with the phone sex revelations and begun to look into the matter themselves. The University of Swansea conducted an enquiry entitled ‘The student sex work project’ which was designed to promote learning and gauge an understanding into how this industry functions and to what extent it benefits young students. The results mirrored our own findings in this investigation, lifting the lid on the intimate details of this much debated profession.

Phone sex in the United Kingdom is legal and a very lucrative and layered business. There are over 2,000 phone sex companies in England alone and no shortage of customers and evidently, no shortage of staff either. The legalities of phone sex differ dependent on the country and their own laws and regulations. China for example has banned over 72 different phone sex companies claiming it ‘poisons the young minds of this country’. In the United States, phone sex has faced revolt among society. Yet in 1989, a Supreme Court judge passed a law affirming that if phone sex lines were to be banned it would be an infringement on the right of free speech. Since then, phone sex companies in the US have widely expanded, with more phone sex companies available than anywhere else in the world, with the UK taking second place in terms of phone sex company masses.

Although we do live in a very sexually liberal society, there still remains a degree of restraint on how phone sex can actually be legally advertised. Posters, fliers and advertisements are banned in most national newspapers but can still be found in large volumes of magazines as these publications operate under  dissimilar publication laws. Televised adverts are more frequent, customarily shown late at night on particular sex based channels. Phone sex adverts on television are thought to be the most effective as attractive girls are used as visual stimulants to lure clients into a purely speech based service. Radio phone sex adverts are very infrequent and never broadcasted via any mainstream or dominant stations in the UK. Independent radio stations again, are under less contractual broadcasting restrictions so have played various phone sex adverts no longer then 10 seconds in length on such stations such as XXJ.FM. It has been established that students and the vast majority of phone sex workers have learnt about this profession through word of mouth and on the internet, which is the hub for almost all phone sex advertising. Our student phone sex survey revealed that only 29.9% of our participants had come into contact with an advert for phone sex, which further suggests that many students have become acquainted with this industry due to other students broadcasting their experiences online. Sites such as ‘Student Beans’ the ‘The Student Room’ are highly influential and informative pages students regularly visit. Individuals post their own experiences and advice on how to break into the world of phone sex.

Students working as phone sex operators is a greatly debated topical issue online with arguments positioned at polar opposite ends of the spectrum. Facebook is a hot-spot for phone sex for and against arguments. Pages such as PAWS which stands for ‘parents against weird sex’. is completely opposed to anyone of any age participating in phone sex, but especially younger members of society. The site is utterly against phone sex and argues that phone sex is still working within the sex industry. Members of this Facebook group strongly argue that phone sex is a degrading and undignified way of making money. PAWS retains the argument that speaking to a stranger and engaging in erotic, highly sexual and explicit phone calls for money is a very demeaning profession, regardless of what phone sex workers say. There is a very varied public debate which can be found on their homepage where current part time and full time phone sex workers argue that they genuinely enjoy their work and still lead happy, healthy and strong relationships. PAWS is against any kind of sexually activity at all, with the exception of a married man and woman purely having sexual intercourse to reproduce. Phone sex is an act disagreed with by PAWS alongside a host of other ‘wrong’ acts, such as homosexuality, fetishes of all walks of life and even some sexual positions, such as ‘doggy-style’.

A second site which thoroughly discusses phone sex is the site ‘mums.net‘ which is created for parents, by parents. Under the phone sex thread, heated debates continue here which exposes viewers to the multiple perspectives and viewpoints.

A common factor for students resorting to phone sex according to the mums.net site, appears to be the sky high University fees. The skeletal living costs are thought to be the primary causes to blame, followed by bad parenting and thirdly by the Media and programmes such as Channel 4, which have been described on the site as ‘championing and glamorising the job’.

There are many online sites defending students who opt to act as phone sex operators such as SWAAY and weconsent.org. These pages publish positive real- life stories offering help, advice and an insight into the business. Campaigns have been launched to support students interested in becoming part of the sex work world and strongly defend their right to do so, especially if individuals are struggling with the extortionate University fees. In contrast, the site ‘The women’s support project UK’ fiercely promotes the message that students working as phone sex operators need help and guidance as phone sex is merely commercialised sexual exploitation. However, this site does agree with SWAAY and weconsent.org in determining that the root cause of students turning to phone sex is down to the inflated University fees.

Professionally acclaimed psychologists have stated that the rationale behind students working as phone sex operators may not be entirely financially focused. Psychology graduate Alexandra Doherty states that the popularity of phone sex is swelling due to the growing zeitgeist of acceptance in society today, encouraging those to be more open about their sexuality. Phone sex operators are viewed by some psychologists as actually providing a much needed service in society today,as the actual job role that they are fulfilling is essentially harmless. Phone sex has been described by psychologists as a sanctuary for some people, conversationally speaking. Gay and lesbian people unable or unwilling to ‘come out’ about their sexuality yet, can still fulfill their sexual desires over the phone, perhaps enabling them to become more comfortable and confident with themselves as a person. Those with low self esteem, who are craving emotional intimacy and for whatever reason are not getting it either mentally or physically can have an artificial stimulation which may offer some solace amongst a lonely lifestyle.

Herbert Robbins, a professor of psychology at Bronx Community College, says there`s little difference between telephone sex, pornographic movies, magazines and even steamy romance novels. People afraid of real relationships, frightened of rejection, tend to seek out these alternatives. Sex therapist and clinical psychologist Judy Kuriansky stated that phone sex operators are typically individuals who are obsessed with sex; who frequently think about sex, talk about sex and tell jokes about sex. Kuriansky also stated that many times they`ve grown up inhibited, and this is the way they overcome their inhibitions. This would suggest that a measure of some students working as phone sex operators may not have found themselves working in this industry solely due to financial debts.
Youth workers operating in establishments such as Connexions revealed that no students had approached the company seeking help of advice regarding phone sex which suggests students either would prefer to keep their involvement private or see no issues with what they are doing. Connexions did  state that if the subject were to be broached, the professional stance on the subject would be to gently discourage and guide students into a new direction. This proves that a degree of professional workers in society disagree with the choice to become a phone sex operator.

Youth workers would discuss at length the possibility of becoming a phone sex operator with students, but would not promote the idea on any level. Connexions stated that they would put a heavy stance on how to avoid turning to phone sex, as the financial schemes are championed and alternative temporary and full time roles pushed. Connexions did agree with the notion that the University fees could be a major contributing factor to this growing business.

Brook, a sexual health clinic, who also revealed that they had not encountered any issues regarding phone sex, possibly as phone sex is a verbal act. Brook did however, comment on the fact that if phone sex becomes more prominent in society today and a more sought after avenue for students to peruse, this could encourage individuals to become more promiscuous, although they could not comment on whether this may result in unplanned pregnancies or STI’s as there is no direct correlation on data concerning this.

The amount that phone sex operators can earn varies on the volume and duration of calls taken. After communicating with several current and previous phone sex workers it seemingly boils down to the fact that you have to work hard to establish yourself in the business and build up a catalogue of regular clients before it becomes personally profitable.

There are documented down sides of working as a phone sex operator, which includes dealing with rude or inappropriate callers. An extreme example of this is when phone sex operators occasionally have to handle phone-calls of a paedophilic nature. Phone sex is widely regarded as a harmless, exciting and exhilarating experience. Adults from all ages, backgrounds and professions enjoy indulging in steamy phone calls, stimulating their innermost fantasies. Both clients and operators appreciate this unique business and as dirty as the conversations may become, clear boundaries always remain. Current phone sex operator Charlie* has been in the business for a number of years and has received only a small handful of paedophilic callers, but was still deeply disturbed by the incidences.

Phone sex chat lines such as Niteflirt advertise several categories for clients to choose from, including the ‘barely legal’ section. This is described as ‘a way to punish your naughty school girl’ on many phone sex websites, including Nite Flirt. School girl costumes can be found in many fancy dress shops and lingerie’ stores such as Ann Summers, as uniformed role play is a well-established turn on for many people, ranging from kinky school girl outfits, to PVC nurse uniforms. There are however, paedophiles who opt for the barely legal categories for more sinister reasoning. Student Charlie* expressed how paedophiles phoning up shouldn’t deter women from working as phone sex operators, as occurrences such as these are fortunately rare. Charlie* states that it is an ugly side of the job, but as soon as you suspect anything even remotely paedophilic, you can always terminate the call.

The vast majority of clients however are friendly and pleasant individuals looking to pay for an experience phone sex operators are willing to share. The clients are vital key cogs in keeping this business booming. There are as many different types of clients as there are operators and every client has to be treated as an individual. The general viewpoint many phone sex customers hold is that these girls are providing a service to respectable clients who sometimes just want to engage in a normal conversation. Customer David* stated that if a student was passionate about this line of work and confident enough in herself to give it a go, then to go for it as there is money to be made and fun to be had. David’s* viewpoints are shared with many other phone sex clients’ online, on sites such as lovehoney.com which declare that they don’t blame students for turning to phone sex as their University fees are so overbearing.
According to money saving expert Martin Lewis whose findings have been published on the LV company website, that a student in University higher education today can expect to pay up to £9,250 annually on living expenses alone. University fees have risen to a staggering £9,000 per year totalling a sum of £18,024 which would accumulate to a debt of a little over £60,000 personal debt upon completion of University. This is a very overwhelming figure for students to comprehend, particularly as they are only in attendance at their University for 37 weeks of the year, due to the lengthy Summer, Christmas and Easter breaks.

The company ‘Premium rate business’ published a guideline online detailing how much the average phone sex worker would typically earn. Based on a 6 minute long phone call (the national average for most phone sex operators) costing 90p per minute, a standard phone sex operator would make £19,000 a year if they took 15 calls per day. Therefore, if a student just starting out as a phone sex operator were to take 5 calls in a day they would earn £18.00 over the course of 24 hours, in a month they would earn £540.00 and annually take home £6,480.

The more advanced and experienced student phone sex operators could take anywhere up to 60 calls a day, adding up to £216 made in a day, £6,480 in a month and annually earning £77,760, which is a very appealing sum for students and perhaps a clue as to why a percentage of students continue with this profession, deserting their original University plans and prospects. Of course, there are many students working as phone sex operators who do not reach anything near that figure. For most, the financial reality of such is this;  the average student phone sex operator engaged in a 6 minute long phone call costing 90p a minute would earn £3.60 per call, taking home a 20% cost of that particular call. This would result in earning an attractive sum of £113.40 per week for just 10 hours worth of work.

Online phone sex companies are peppered with the promise of quick, highly paid phone sex operator positions. This does ring to be true if you a dedicated and talented individual willing to put the time and effort in. However, for every advert claiming you can be debt free in a matter of months, there are just as many posts, threads and websites expressing personal struggle and difficulty in making any kind of money in this business at all.

After conducting a survey with a mixture of 100 young people aged between 16 to 31 we uncovered some very poignant results. Our data gathered showed that 87% of our participants thought that the rise in University tuition fees have been the sole cause of students turning to work as phone sex operators. The 13% of participants who disagreed with this statement were almost all older than 30. This showed that the younger participants (who were almost all students) were the ones who blamed the fees and these are also the people actually working as phone sex operators, so potentially speaking from firsthand experience.

A percentage of 71.43% people who took part in our survey revealed that they approve of students working as phone sex operators. This once again mirrors our laid-back attitudes towards sex and all things associated with sex, at least concerning the younger generations of our society. A further 25% of people claimed that they would consider working as a phone sex operator which does suggest that many would be comfortable with other individuals working as a phone sex operators, but not personally. An unexpected figure of 10.71% of survey participants admitted to knowing someone who used to or currently still does work as a phone sex operator. This could mean participants are either reluctant to admit that they know of someone operating within this industry or that students working as phone sex operators is perhaps not as over populated or common as originally perceived.

A national survey conducted by the contraception company Durex revealed that 45.05% of the population had tried phone sex before which proves that this is a very profitable and demanding business. Additional studies by Durex exposed that 56.62% of the survey’s participants would firstly look online at phone sex companies before either choosing to become a client or indeed, an operator. This blends into the technological advancements occurring within this industry today.

Many phone sex companies and websites are now offering their customers the chance to add a third dimension to their phone sex experience with the aid of live visual stimulants; by adding a webcam to the phone-call. The rates per minute are considerably more expensive than just speaking on the phone, reaching highs of £1.50 per minute. Pay phones are a thing of a past and land lines are following suit. Mobile phones are dominating the market, but according to Charlie* a current phone sex operator, clients are looking for a more visually stimulating experience. Charlie* states that speaking on the phone isn’t good enough anymore for some men and that she likes to remain anonymous as much as her client does at the other end of the phone.

Results from a second Durex survey show most people would be willing to engage in webcam conversations if they didn’t have to appear on-screen themselves. Students applying to become phone sex operators are now being asked on their applications if they would be willing to use a webcam to heighten the clients’ experiences. This is somewhat of a deterrent for many students who relish the anonymity of the profession which may implicate a feeling of embarrassment as working as a phone sex operator. Charlie* declared that once a phone sex operator showed their face online, it can always be traced back as they would then be instantly recognisable. But with raw phone sex, a voice is much harder to distinguish and one can easily fade out of the business whenever they feel ready.
The use of webcams during phone sex calls have ignited outrage from many online sites opposing phone sex and phone sex via a webcam, claiming that there is a fine line between phone sex and pornography.

The sex site lovehoney.com champions and supports phone sex but argues that adding a webcam detracts from the overall experience, stating that phone sex is meant to be an act of mental stimulation, earning the luxury to imagine anyone or any scenario you choose. Phone sex client David* echoes this belief of phone sex bleeding into the online arena as a negative move, claiming that the beauty and attraction of phone sex stemmed from the freedom to use your imagination and visualise any kind of scenario you want purely by what is being said on the phone.

David* further explained that speaking to a girl through a computer screen is completely different. If he wasn’t personally attracted to her then the entire thing would be a waste of time. With a mobile phone, it is a much more accessible and practical business, but with a computer you need a screen and a great deal more privacy.

To apply for work as a phone sex operator is very simplistic, straight forward and easily accessible. Online applications are available at the click of a button and ask individuals to fill out a brief form detailing their personal details including their address, age and name. No phone sex site requests a joining fee, all sites state operators must be aged 18 or over to apply for a position and a handful of websites ask for a small paragraph explaining why they want to be a phone sex operator. A common feature found on many application forms is where sites ask aspiring phone sex operators to select which category they wish to specialise in, ranging from BDSM to niche fetishes. Desired phone sex operator characteristics include; confidence, an open mind, a strong ability to improvise, to be a natural flirt and to embody the capacity to make people feel comfortable. This is seemingly a necessary check-list phone sex operators must conform to in order to become successful within this field.

Successful candidates are then contacted within 72 hours by the company and engage in a phone interview to test their improvisational skills and suitability for the job. Training is offered by some companies and scripts are sent out to beginners new to this line of work. Over time all phone sex operators improvise and hold ‘go with the flow’ type format with callers, after familiarising themselves with the nature of their typical conversations and the client’s needs.

“The ratio of female to male phone sex operators is heavily outweighed by the volume of girls dominating the market. The phone sex company Niteflirt employs over 400 female phone sex operators and a small pool of only 20 male operators. Charlie* a current phone sex operator who has been in the business for many years claims that there just isn’t a big enough market for male phone sex operators and the demand for such is very low. Girls however, are being constantly recruited and students are evidently particularly keen to begin flourishing within this role”.


To revert back to the original question asked ‘ Are students turning to working as phone sex operators due to the rise in University fees?’ does appear to have been answered. There are concrete strong arguments supporting and defending students working as phone sex operators and equally solid arguments opposing and demonising the act of phone sex. We have looked at the multiple perspectives and viewpoints of parents, clients, students, psychologists, youth workers, for and against campaigners and phone sex operators who all have taken varying stances on where they stand. We have encountered positive and negative real life experiences and been exposed to a snap shot insight into how this industry operates and functions. However, this isn’t an investigation to determine whether or not students working as phone sex operators is the right or wrong thing to do. This isn’t an enquiry into the moral or humanist issue behind students working phone sex operators. We set out to determine the cause of students turning to phone sex not to define the consequences.

Taking all data, information and knowledge procured and sourced throughout this investigation the facts and figures do point to one principle and major cause; that of the soaring University fees.


As long as University fees remain at such a high level, students across the country will turn to phone sex as a way of making ends meet. Perhaps it will evolve into a successful life-long profession or maybe just fizzle out after a few months. It could be argued indefinitely that this is inappropriate and that students are at University to learn, not to earn. It could be debated that students working as phone sex operators is an advised, harmless and potential fruitful means of making money and keeping their bank managers at bay. Perhaps phone sex is a last resort for students to resort to when their part time retail work or waitressing shifts just aren’t cutting it anymore. Or possibly phone sex is a fantastically profitable and rewarding position students should be fighting for as soon as they enrol at University.


Ultimately, phone sex is just a business. In any business, the customer is king. Phone sex companies do not care if their operators are students or full time mum’s as long as they can do the job and do the job to a high standard. As long as the customers keep phoning, positions will always be available, this business will always remain afloat and students will always be welcome to join the team.
University is always going to be expensive. Unless you have very wealthy parents, students are always going to be financially struggling to an extent, which is why phone sex will always remain an option. It is irrelevant whether or not it is the right or wrong thing to do, but as long as the fees are high, students will always be searching for ways in which to cope. Students working as phone sex operators are going to be around for as long as the University fees are.

Charlie*, a current phone sex operator and our primary portal of information throughout this investigation stated:

”We live in a world driven by money and we also live in a world where you need a good job to become successful. To get a good job, you need a good education, which often means you need to go to University. Did you ever think that we phone sex operators are only doing this job throughout education for our own good? Why not work as a phone sex operator and pay your way through University to scale down the amount of debt you are left with at the end? The University fees have been put up and that’s life. You need money to get anywhere in this climate and that’s life too. I guess what I’m trying to say is… once you’ve talked the talk… it’s alot easier to walk the walk”. 

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