The campus vote tipped the balance in five out of ten marginal seats identified by The Times Higher as being vulnerable to a swing in academics' and students' allegiance, writes Paul Hill.
The Liberal Democrats seized Cambridge with a swing of 15 per cent from Labour, Bristol West with an 8 per cent swing and Leeds North West with a swing of 9 per cent.
But Labour's Anne McGuire held Stirling and fee rebel John Grogan held Selby - which includes York University - although his majority over the Tories fell from 2,138 to 467.
The Conservatives took Labour's seat of Lancaster and Wyre on a 4.5 per cent swing and held off a Labour challenge in Canterbury.
But the Lib Dems also turned a Labour marginal into a 5,000 majority in Cardiff Central. The seat was formerly held by tuition fee rebel Jon Owen Jones.
In Durham, academic Roberta Blackman-Woods held off the Lib Dems, who nevertheless cut Labour's majority by 10,000 votes. Colchester remains in the hands of Lib Dem Bob Russell.
The Lib Dems also credited the student vote for their gain of the safe Labour seat of Manchester Withington.