C only got outside UNIX in the mid-90's.
Its ubiquity is an historical accident, by no means permanent, and thankfully some vendors are finally walking away from it, as proven by Microsoft security advisor for future Windows development best practices.
Those university students went out to found startups that created the UNIX workstation market, like Sun.
Had Bell Labs been allowed to sell UNIX, C would have been a footnote in systems programming languages.
EDIT: This is how well C was thought out.
"Oh, it was quite a while ago. I kind of stopped when C came out. That was a big blow. We were making so much good progress on optimizations and transformations. We were getting rid of just one nice problem after another. When C came out, at one of the SIGPLAN compiler conferences, there was a debate between Steve Johnson from Bell Labs, who was supporting C, and one of our people, Bill Harrison, who was working on a project that I had at that time supporting automatic optimization...The nubbin of the debate was Steve's defense of not having to build optimizers anymore because the programmer would take care of it. That it was really a programmer's issue.... Seibel: Do you think C is a reasonable language if they had restricted its use to operating-system kernels? Allen: Oh, yeah. That would have been fine. And, in fact, you need to have something like that, something where experts can really fine-tune without big bottlenecks because those are key problems to solve. By 1960, we had a long list of amazing languages: Lisp, APL, Fortran, COBOL, Algol 60. These are higher-level than C. We have seriously regressed, since C developed. C has destroyed our ability to advance the state of the art in automatic optimization, automatic parallelization, automatic mapping of a high-level language to the machine. This is one of the reasons compilers are ... basically not taught much anymore in the colleges and universities."
-- Fran Allen interview, Excerpted from: Peter Seibel. Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming
Don't get me wrong, I do like C. But it wasn't the run away success nor holds quite the monopoly you suggest it does.