The aim of this article is to consider the practical implications of international collaborative partnerships between and within higher education institutions (HEIs) in terms of the development of an international programme in Special Needs Education as well as its implementation. We first look at the heavy institutional demands set within national boundaries and their associated quality assurance procedures. We argue that contextualising these demands within wider international and European demands creates unforeseen challenges for the participants both institutionally and individually. Secondly, the paper focuses on the programme's response to a dilemma – how do we internationalise (working in European Union HEIs)? Thirdly, attention is paid to how fundamental tensions around internationalisation of the curriculum and knowledge-sharing and the extent to which this is being managed at the Consortium of the three universities involved.