University District Student Population Trend is Flat to Downward over Past Five Years

There’s a meme that the “University District” is a fast growing area with tons of students moving in.

Here’s a quote from a comment to a Spokesman-Review article about the bridge:

The student population of the University District is growing fast, but the universities have decided not to build student housing (i.e. dorms) for the growing population, which makes sense because the students generally aren’t freshmen/sophomores and don’t want to live in dorms.

The specific answer to how many students are moving in to the geographic area is not available. But we can look at the enrollment trends at the local universities there and we find that combined enrollment is flat to slightly downward over the past five years.

Gonzaga University



Washington State University – Spokane

(Data Source, chart drawn by this blog). The blue line represents WSU-Spokane. (Update: Fall 2013 numbers are in and show a meaningful increase from 2012 to 2013.)


Chart Showing Combined Enrollments at GU + WSU-Spokane

The orange line at top is the combined student enrollment total.  Combined enrollment reached a peak about five years ago and has been flat to slightly downwards since then. This suggests the “fast growing University District student population” claim is not true during the past five years.

(There could be EWU and Whitworth commuter students there too but its mostly GU/WSU now as best I can tell. Enrollment data is not available. Are their trends different than WSU and GU?)


This chart is not intended to predict future growth only to note that current claims of “fast growing” are not shown in the available data. It is not clear if students will want to live in apartments near a heavily trafficked railroad line, due to the noise of the railroad.

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