The statistics for 2011 have just been released and student allowance recipients for 2011 reached 97,308. That's an increase of 41,757 since 2005 or 75 percent. I think of student allowances as benefits even though they come out of the Ministry of Education budget. After all, if they weren't on a student allowance many would be on the dole.
Looking at the allowances in the context of unemployment, in 1991 unemployment peaked at 11 percent. In that year 72,479 students received an allowance. The population was smaller then but not by much with respect to the relevant demographic.
In 1991 the 15-24 population was 556,000.
In 2011 it was 644,000.
(Of course not all student allowance recipients fall into that age group but most do.)
On the face of it the ratio of young people receiving a student allowance to the unemployment rate is higher today.