Student population in JP holds steady


More than 4 percent of Jamaica Plain residents are college students, a rate similar to last year’s, according to a city census that counted 1,403 students living off-campus in the neighborhood.

The majority (837) are graduate students. Undergraduates total 566. The data is incomplete—especially because it doesn’t include the University of Massachusetts Boston—and the actual student population is surely significantly higher.

The top sources of students in JP are: Northeastern University (281); Boston University (137); Simmons College (137); Massachusetts College of Art and Design (108); and New England Conservatory (100). Students from at least 26 colleges live in the neighborhood.

The student count, collected last month, is self-reported by institutions under the University Accountability Ordinance written by City Councilor Mike Ross. It is intended to shed light on the crowding of off-campus undergraduates into certain neighborhoods, especially Ross’s home Mission Hill area. Mission Hill, while much smaller than JP, is home to more than 1,700 undergrads.

The numbers tell a different story in JP, which has no college within its borders. Only 40 percent of the counted students are undergraduates. There have been occasional controversies over off-campus fraternity houses in JP. But students are probably best known in the neighborhood for significant contributions to the local arts scene and for the attractiveness of grad students as tenants in the real estate market.

Art schools remain well-represented in the JP population, including MassArt, New England Conservatory and Berklee College of Music (62). The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, which reported 72 local students last year, did not list a JP population this year in an apparent oversight.

Also prominent are students in Harvard University’s graduate schools of medicine, dentistry, public health and business (85).

Last year’s count reported 1,451 students in the neighborhood. But direct comparison with this year’s numbers are uncertain due to flaws in the system and differences in how the data was compiled.

The student count last year was compiled into a citywide report by the Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA). The BRA chose not to create a similar report this year because the numbers appeared not to have changed very much, according to spokesperson Jessica Shumaker. The Gazette performed its own analysis this year with somewhat different methods, including not counting continuing education students.

There are some quirks in the process that mean the neighborhood’s student count is surely higher.

As a city ordinance, the student count requirement covers only private Boston institutions. It does not cover state schools. (MassArt, a state school, voluntarily decided to report anyway.) It also does not cover institutions in nearby cities such as Cambridge or Brookline, though Harvard’s and Tufts’ Boston-based schools are covered.

The count is reported only by ZIP code, which does not exactly match neighborhoods. The JP count is based on the core 02130 ZIP code. Likewise, JP’s US Census data is based on the core ZIP code, with the 2000 local population standing at 36,293, by the Gazette’s own analysis.

The missing schools and areas surely add scores of students to the count.

The student counts are based on internal institutional information. Individual addresses or other personal information are never given to the city and are not made public. Most full-time colleges require their off-campus students to provide accurate address information.

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