Student population in JP spikes

January 17, 2014
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Jamaica Plain’s student population has dramatically increased since 2011 according to an annual census, with the number of graduate students almost doubling in that time.

JP’s student residents used to be evenly split between graduates and undergraduates, though that is no longer the case. Graduate students now dominate JP with 1,053 students to 622 undergrads. In fall 2011, those numbers were 526 graduate and 540 undergraduate students.

While 1,675 undergrads and graduate students currently live in JP, JP had 1,066 students living in the neighborhood in 2011.

That means about 2.8 percent of JP residents are students. The actual amount is likely to be slightly higher due to the census’s reporting methods.

The top five sources of students living off-campus in JP are: Northeastern University (NU) with 348; Boston University (BU) with 282; New England Conservatory of Music with 119; Simmons College with 98 and Berkelee College of Music with 92. Students from at least 30 colleges live in the neighborhood.

NU students constitute the single greatest increase, from no full-time graduate students living in JP in 2011 to 261 students last semester.

“I don’t think we can speculate on why people live in JP. It’s a great neighborhood to live in,” said NU Vice President for Community and Governmental Outreach John Tobin, who formerly served as JP’s city councilor. “But there’s no question our graduate enrollment is up. It’s part of NU’s strategic plan, working to keep undergraduate enrollment flat and increase graduate enrollment.”

NU has committed itself to keeping its undergraduate enrollment around 15,000 students. Its graduate enrollment was 4,202 full-time graduate students in fall 2011, the most recent data NU’s press office could provide.

“[The increase also] speaks to the high number of people who work at NU and who take advantage of grad classes,” he added.

BU’s spokesperson, Colin Riley, echoed those sentiments.

“JP is a desirable location, close to campus. I wouldn’t say there’s any particular reason. It probably has to do with word of mouth or costs,” Riley said. BU’s enrollment is about the same as it has been in the last year or two, he added.

The neighborhood student population count is required under the University Accountability Ordinance. It requires a census, self-reported by educational institutions, of all students living both on-campus and off-campus.

The student census is intended to shed light on the crowding of off-campus undergraduates into certain neighborhoods, especially Mission Hill. Mission Hill, while about half the size of JP, is home to over 2,000 undergrads.

There are various quirks in the census that mean the actual student population is higher. The student census is taken by ZIP codes, which don’t match neighborhoods. Only the 02130 ZIP code area is entirely within JP. Parts of Egleston Square and Woodbourne are in other ZIP codes and the student counts within the JP part cannot be distinguished.

The census also only reports the student population of private, Boston-based schools—which means UMass Boston is not included, nor are any of Harvard’s Cambridge-based schools.

Some schools that are exempt report voluntarily anyway. They include the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, which is a state school, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is in Cambridge.

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