Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Headline writing: when is a 'slump' just a fall?

The headline on this Guardian news story caught my eye:
Number of UK-born university applicants slumps by 8% 
But is an 8% drop really a slump? 'Slump' suggests a major fall in applications to me. The Guardian standfirst says:
In the year fees of up to £9,000 kick in, 283,680 people apply for university from within UK, compared with 306,908 last year
If my sums are correct that's a fall of 23,228 applicants.  Sounds like a lot. But how many places are there to apply for? Also, as one of the commenters on the story notes, last year was a boom year for applications as prospective students rushed to beat the fee increase.  Maybe we need more context.                                                                                                                                                                        
 So is the story about a slump or just a fall?

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