The demands and challenges posed by the global economy help explain the growing importance of the internationalisation of higher education in European, national and institutional policy arenas. The discourse of internationalisation is driven primarily by economic factors, and an emphasis on competition, standards and skills has shifted attention away from considering internationalisation in relation to the aims, values and the purpose of higher education. This paper considers the notion of translation as a way of thinking about internationalisation. Translation is normally understood in relatively simple terms – as the transfer of meaning from one language to another – and it is seen primarily as a technical matter, albeit one that sometimes raises considerable difficulties. It is argued that that there is something limited and mistaken about this way of thinking about translation. It is not only between languages that translation occurs but also within a language. The question of translation has to do with the nature of meaning, and meaning has been and must remain a central concern of higher education and the university.