I investigate the growing internationalisation of English universities’ student body since 1979, focusing on how this relates to the reconceptualization of the higher education student as a consumer and the growing policy expectations that students meet the full costs of their education. The latter, regarded by many as a crucial element of the so-called marketization of higher education (Brown and Carasso 2013; Palfreyman and Tapper 2016), have been accompanied by policy developments that have put greater emphasis on higher education institutions (HEIs) becoming more entrepreneurial, encouraged to seek funding outside the public purse and forced to compete for most of their income in market-like environments, including students. By analysing policy documents and exploring the patterns of international student recruitment in England, this thesis first explores how international students have been framed as consumers by policy makers since the early 1980s, arguing that the language used to describe the nature of international students and their needs as customers since the 1980s has been eventually translated to domestic students from the mid-1990s. Second, this research seeks to contribute to the current debate on the implications of commodifying higher education for the institutional differentiation in higher education systems. By analysing data on both international and domestic students, this research project seeks to identify those HEIs that, in an age of increased competition for students that may make net contributions to the institutions they study in, are resilient and why.