This article presents a comparative analysis of two country-specific cases. The comparative analysis is situated within the broad domain of the changing knowledge economy landscape for educational policy. The two cases examine the transfer, embedding and enactment of policies during the interactions between supranational, national, institutional and individual levels. Case study one concerns policy transfers and their mediation between the EU and the national levels, drawing from empirical research on the UK. Case study two explores the experience and interpretation of higher education mobility practices from the point of view of individual mobile academics located in, or connected to, the Dutch frameworks of higher education. We employ the concept of space to illuminate the effects on education policy and practice of the changing relationships between the national and inter-, supranational levels of discourse and practice. Our central thesis is that even though EU member states have lost sovereign power over defining education goals and outcomes, hindering dynamics remain. The extent to which policies and discourses from 'outside' the national level are integrated and adopted 'within' depends on the interaction between education-political discourses with existing institutionalised practices. In the case of the EU education policies we observe a weak form of policy transfer to the national level. In the UK there is a combination of a dense institutional field in education and a Eurosceptic political discourse. In the Dutch case of individual academics, on the other hand, we found a positive discourse around international academic mobility. A moderately adapted set of regulatory frameworks and emerging support structures facilitate to varying degrees the Dutch practice of academic mobility. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.