Academic and personal help.
Support for Student Sex Workers

We define sex work as selling or exchanging sex for money or goods, and will use the term ‘sex work’ to refer to situations of both selling or exchanging sex. We use the term ‘sex work’ in a broad sense, encompassing a wide range of experiences. You may not identify with the term ‘sex work’ and that is perfectly ok, these resources are still here to support you, regardless of what language you prefer.

Research from 2015 found that, of those who responded to the survey, nearly 5% of UK students engaged in sex work, while 22% had considered working in the sex industry. In addition, more recent evidence suggests that students would consider turning to the sex industry in a cash emergency too, and we know that with the cost of living crisis, some students may have considered working in the industry for additional funds. You may take part in one or various forms of sex work, such as camming, selling photographs/videos, physical sex work with clients, or sugar-dating. Whatever you choose to do, your safety is important.

The Law

Scotland has a complicated legal position on sex work. At the present time, it is not illegal to sell sex as an individual. However, some aspects of sex work remain illegal in Scotland:

  • Running a ‘brothel’ – a building/room/commercial venue where sex is sold/exchanged. Two or more sex workers working together in the same space (including in a flat) counts as a brothel under the Law and is therefore illegal.
  • Trying to buy or sell sex in public. In Law, this is referred to soliciting or loitering in a public place.

For more about your rights, please take a look at Scot-PEP and National Ugly Mugs.

Potential impact on your studies

If you are engaged in some form of sex work, you may be worried about the possible consequences on your studies or student life more broadly.

University Halls or University Managed Accommodation

Where RBS becomes aware of a student engaging in sex work within a Residence, the primary focus will be on ensuring the health and safety of all Residents.  RBS will not take any action, provided the students actions do not jeopardise their own safety or that of other residents.  However, if a student persists in behaviours that could endanger themselves or others, RBS may begin formal action for breaches of terms and conditions of occupancy and may impose sanctions up to and including Removal from University Accommodation.

Harm Reduction

It is important that you are safe and supported however you sell or exchange sex. Any violence you may experience whilst engaging in sex work is not your fault. Sexual violence is always the sole fault of the perpetrator. However, there are some steps you can take and resources to be aware of that can support you to keep safe. The following suggestions were taken from sex-worker led charities and websites, rather than advice from the Students’ Association or University.

Online Safety

  • Keep your work and private life separate if you can, including using an alias on any social media accounts for sex work.
  • Keep all messages with clients, never delete messages. This makes sure you have a record of past clients’ behaviour in case things go wrong.
  • Never provide services until you have been paid, even if the client has paid you properly on previous occasions.
  • If any of your content has been stolen or uploaded without your consent, or you just want to have your content taken down, you can report it to National Ugly Mugs or Revenge Porn Helpline. Please be aware that although intimate image abuse and blackmail do occur when you share sexual images online, you are still worthy of support and help to rectify the problem.
  • Turn off location tagging and metadata on photos you post online, ideally post screenshots of actual photos. Metadata can tell you when and where the photo was taken, which can be dangerous in the context of sex work, so  turning off metadata and location tagging, and using screenshots instead can act as a layer of protection. It is fairly easy to turn off location tagging, if you go to the Settings in your phone camera you should be able to select an option so that your location is never recorded.

Sexual Health

  • Get regular tests for STIs. Go to our resources section for more information on accessing sexual health clinics and testing.
  • Always bring your own condoms, that way you know the quality of them. You can get free condoms from the Students’ Association, through your Hall committee, and occasional subcommittee events. You don’t need to tell us why you want condoms, it’s no questions asked. You can also get condoms for free through the NHS if you would prefer to get them elsewhere (please see the resources below on sexual health for more details).  
  • Stealthing is where someone takes off a condom without the other person’s consent, or lies about wearing a condom. Stealthing is illegal and is a form of sexual violence which many sex workers experience. If you are subjected to stealthing, you can get support from various places, including from Rape Crisis centres like FRASAC.
  • You might ask clients to show proof of getting tested if you feel safe to do so/if that is appropriate.

Mental Health

  • Only do what you are comfortable with. Set your own standards and boundaries. You can set boundaries with clients, and with friends and family who may have challenging views on sex work or want to know what exactly you do. Setting boundaries can be an important way to protect yourself.
  • Take time away from your work and do things that support your wellbeing.
  • Reach out for support when you need it, whether that’s informally from other sex workers, or from therapists.

Physical Safety

  • Use National Ugly Mugs’ client checker tool to stay safe. National Ugly Mugs is a UK charity that aims to eliminate violence against and provide support to sex workers. You can also sign up for alerts on National Ugly Mugs for people to watch out for. Please note that you will need to set up an account with National Ugly Mugs to access these tools.
  • Never do anything without receiving pay in full. Not paying in full for sexual services is exploitative and is not what you consented to.
  • Meet in public spaces at least initially so you can make sure you can leave with witnesses if you feel uncomfortable or something goes wrong.
  • You might decide not to meet in a client’s space, it’s best to choose to meet somewhere you know well and feel safe in.
  • Log any meetings or interactions you have with clients through websites or texts where you can, as this is a better record of conversations than phone calls or other forms of communication.
  • Always tell someone where you’re going if you can, and get them to check in with you if possible.
  • If anything goes wrong, you can report it on the National Ugly Mugs website (if you have an account), and if you are in immediate danger call 999.

Internal support resources

Student Services is a non-judgemental service offering advice and support on issues relating to wellbeing, mental health, money/finances, academic issues, disabilities and for those living in residences. We also have excellent links with third-party support organisations and can help you to access the support that best suits your needs.

There is a range of support available to you as a student. For example, we provide counselling, wellbeing services and mental health coordination. There are also money advisers based within Student Services who provide confidential financial advice including information on funding for those experiencing extenuating circumstances. For more information, please see  here.   For information about the full range of student support at the University of St Andrews please see here.

What you discuss in an appointment with Student Services remains confidential unless there is an immediate risk to you or someone else. This means that, unless there is an immediate risk to you or someone else, disclosing something during an appointment with Student Services would not normally result in anything being shared, including with the Police, without your consent. Please see  here  for more information about the importance of confidentiality to our service including some examples of the exceptions to this. 

Please contact  [email protected]  if you have any questions or would like to discuss the support we offer.

External support resources

Sex work specific support services

Support for Student Sex Workers is a dedicated charity for student sex workers led by sex workers. You can text/call/WhatsApp or email them for support and a chat, and they aim to reply to initial queries within 24 hours. The charity is led by and involves current and former sex workers.

Their website has resources on physical, online, and sexual safety, and support resources for mental wellbeing and supporting friends and family who are sex workers. They also offer creative projects which you can get involved with.

  • Text/call/WhatsApp: 07939 949 160
  • You can also use the referral form and they will call, phone, or text you back depending on what you prefer

Scot-PEP is a Scottish charity which is sex worker led, advocating for the rights and safety of those who sell sex in Scotland. They have resources in various languages about the Police and your rights for those who sell sex, as well as content around the law.

The Sex Workers Union is a UK-wide group for sex workers, providing healthcare, training opportunities, and legal assistance. They advocate for the full decriminalisation of sex work and better working conditions for sex workers. You can join regardless of the type of sex work you do, and is open to anyone of any gender or background. Basic membership is £5.59 per month. You can use the online form to contact them with enquiries.

National Ugly Mugs (NUM) is a UK charity devoted to sex worker safety and support. If you register to join the network (for free), you can report an incident, check a potential client’s details, see warnings of clients to look out for, and get online content taken down. They also have mental health resources, as well as access to caseworkers.  

  • If you need to speak to a caseworker, call them on 0161 629 9861 or 0800 464 7669 (Tuesday-Friday, 10:00-16:00)
  • They also have online chat available Tuesdays and Thursdays, 13:00-15:00

NUMbrella Lane is a safe space in central Glasgow for sex workers to meet in a friendly and supportive atmosphere, where you’ll find free safe sex supplies, a food bank, and drop ins to exchange knowledge. You need to be an NUM member to be informed of the exact location.


  • Tuesdays: 16:30-19:30
  • Wednesdays: 13:00-16:00
  • Thursdays: 13:00-16:00

Other support resources

Revenge Porn Helpline is a UK charity for all (not solely sex workers), to support you if your intimate images have been distributed or used without your consent.

  • Helpline open Monday-Friday 10:00-16:00 (excluding bank holidays): 0345 6000 459
  • Automated webchat (REIYA) is available 24/7
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Whisper anonymous reporting form

Rape Crisis Scotland is a Scotland-wide charity that supports people who have been subjected to sexual violence recently or historically. They support people of all genders and backgrounds, including people engaging in sex work.

Fife Rape and Sexual Assault Centre (FRASAC) is the local Rape Crisis centre for Fife, offering support to anyone who has ever experienced sexual violence.

  • Call FRASAC Monday-Thursday 09:00-16:30, Friday 09:00-12:00: 01592 642 336. Outwith these hours you can still call and leave your details and they will ring you back in working hours.
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Online form

Women’s Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre (WRASAC) is for women (including trans women) in Dundee and Angus who have ever experienced sexual violence.

  • Call WRASAC Monday-Friday 10:00-15:00: 01382 201 291. Outwith these hours you can still call and leave your details and they will ring you back in working hours.
  • Email: [email protected]

Local sexual health testing

St Andrews

There is a Friday afternoon testing clinic at the Community Hospital. If the clinic is busy, so you may be best ringing the Fife Sexual Health appointment line (01592 647 979) as you will be given options for other appointments at other locations.

The St Andrews clinic tests for:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Candida/Thrush
  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV)
  • Trichomonas Vaginalis (TV)
  • Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV)
  • Syphilis
  • HIV
  • Hepatitis B+C
  • Pregnancy testing

The clinic also provides contraception:

  • Pills-POP CHC
  • Patches
  • Implants
  • Injectable methods-Depo Provera, Sayana Press
  • Condoms/Femidom


  • St Andrews Community Hospital, Largo Road, St Andrews, KY16 8AR
  • Opening hours: Fridays 13:00-16:00 in term time
  • Call:
    • Student Health Hub on 01334 465 777
    • Hospital reception: 01592 647 979
    • Sexual Health Fife appointment line: 01592 647 979
    • If the line is not open and you are concerned about any symptoms, call NHS 24 on 111


You can access testing from Ninewells Hospital in Dundee. They provide testing for STIs, contraception, pregnancy testing, and sexual health and wellbeing related advice


  • Ninewells Hospital, Level 7 South Block, Dundee, DD2 1UB
  • Call: 01382 425 542
  • If the line is not open and you are concerned about any symptoms, call NHS 24 on 111
  • Opening hours:
    • Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, 09:00-16:00
    • Thursday: 11:30-16:00

Home testing kits


When you call the Sexual Health Fife appointment line (01592 647 979), you may be offered a home testing kit, depending on your circumstances. If eligible, you may be able to get a test for chlamydia and gonorrhoea.

You can also order free HIV self-testing kits which are delivered by post. You can order a test from SH.UK (in partnership with the NHS and HIV Scotland), and find out more information about how and why to test from HIV Scotland.

Dundee & Tayside

If you live in Tayside and don’t have any symptoms, or only have a change in vaginal discharge, you can get free home testing kits delivered by post. Once you’ve used the kit, just return it to Ninewells, or any NHS Tayside GP practice. The tests can detect:

  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhoea
  • Syphilis
  • HIV

For men who have sex with men, you can order free tests for syphilis, chlamydia, and gonorrhoea through the Tayside MSM STI consultation, in connection with Terrence Higgins Trust. You can also order a free HIV test from THT Scotland.