Over the few last decades, the competition for international students has heightened significantly. International students are said to contribute financially and academically, integrate more easily, possess host country’s language skills and thus constitute ideal candidates to retain as labour migrants. While the state plays a key role in migration policy-making, non-state actors including universities are often neglected in the literature. Yet, they can be important actors in lobbying and facilitating student immigration. How do national policies and university strategies towards international students interact? Drawing on Guiraudon and Lahav’s framework on shifting migration control outward to private actors, the paper argues that universities operate autonomously in a global setting, which indicates that institutions are partly disembedded from states in terms of operational functions and direct controls. But they are not outside of, or inconsistent with, state policies. Once this occurs, clashes with the state may take place, hindering their internationalisation efforts. This article examines different national and university internationalisation strategies at Charles University in the Czech Republic, Sciences Po in France and University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The findings are based on official documents, position statements of relevant stakeholders, and are complemented by interviews with policy-makers and university officials.
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