The school protest in the Polish part of Russia and Germany that took place in 1907 forced young Poles to educational emigration. In Galicia, Polish-language academic institutions have developed a new elite. Together with Polish graduates of Western European universities turned out to be the main factor consolidating society around the idea of rebuilding the state. In the revived Second Republic of Poland, academic circles proved a counterbalance to autocratic rule in 1926-1939. The more so because the number of universities increased from 8 to 32 and they represented a high, world class level of education. After 1945, the rapid reconstruction of Polish universities and the consolidation of the academic community have prevented the communists from taking over higher education. In addition, after the turn of 1956, the autonomy of Polish universities was expanded despite the riots in 1968. Martial law and the breakdown of Solidarność resulted in taking over the function of socio-political opposition by academic circles up to 1989. In turn, the breakthrough made at that time was also thank to Polish elites, but at the same time led to a rapid development of the number of universities and the birth of academic capitalism. An attempt to violate the autonomy of universities in 2005-2007 stimulated the academic community and contributed to the collapse of the PiS government in 2007. Universities and the elites educated in them are in the long run more important for society than the institution of the state, material or economic resources, or armed forces. From this perspective, the Polish case confirms the proposed thesis and the visibility of the third function: supporting democratization processes in the society.