The Game Developers Choice Awards is an annual show where developers themselves honor the best games of the previous year (much like the Academy Awards for film).
At the GDCA, the winner for Game of the Year was Portal, beating out Bioshock, Call of Duty 4, Rock Band and Super Mario Galaxy. Additionally, Portal received several other awards (Innovation and Game Design) and was tied with Bioshock for most nominations overall.
In case the implications of this are not clear, let me say it straight: A seven-person student team made a game that, in the opinion of the professional industry, is better than four other games with teams of 100+ experienced industry professionals each.
The Independent Games Festival went much the same, with four-person student project World of Goo walking away with the grand prize (along with the other two things was nominated for).
Okay, so these aren't technically "students" anymore since they all graduated last year. And yes, the people involved in these games are absolutely brilliant, and I wouldn't expect this to be achievable by just anyone. But at the same time, I think it says something that small teams lacking industry experience are capable of this kind of success. If you are working on a student project, take it seriously...