Globalisation and convergence in educational policy worldwide has reinvigorated, while rendering more complex, the classic theme of educational transfer. Framed by this wider pursuit of new understandings of a changing transfer/context puzzle, this paper explores how an ethnographic 'thick description' might complement and extend recent research. Specifically, it relates findings from extended ethnographic work on an attempt by a prominent Japanese university to 'import' the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). This rare case of explicit 'borrowing' from a supranational space directly to the domestic institutional level, when approached in such a way, suggests new insights to help the field refine understandings of the processes, 'shape-shifting', and 'success' of international policy migration.
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