The study by an Oxford university politics professor and the Higher Education Policy Institute think-tank expects the balance of power at the next general election to come down to the voting patterns of students in some constituencies.
HEPI director Nick Hillman said: “If the opinion polls are a guide to the next election, then students could just swing the overall result and hold the keys to power.”
The Green Party, who have been consistent in their promise to scrap university tuition fees if given power, will be hoping increased interest will help Caroline Lucas’ ability to hold their party’s only parliamentary seat in Brighton Pavilion.
HEPI found that parties’ polices on tuition fees are the most important to students, making support for the Lib Dems – who broke their promise not to increase the charges – less likely than Labour, which is expected to promise a £3000 cut to fees.
The report draws on the British Election Study’s figures, which suggests the amount of students who would vote Lib Dem dropped from 44% in 2010 to 13% in March 2014.
Prof Stephen Fisher, who carried out the analysis, said: “The student vote seems to have reacted more strongly to apparent breaches of promise.