Vice-chancellors are considering redirecting some European students away from Britain to universities in other countries that also teach in English.
The move comes in response to government concerns about a growing gap between the number of students Britain imports from the Continent and the number of Britons who go abroad to study.
The Department for Education and Employment wants universities to keep a tighter rein on the import of European students and to look for ways of boosting the export of British students.
But government officials are aware that European students will continue to want to study in Britain partly because it is important for them to improve their written and spoken English.
The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, which is due to meet DFEE officials to consider ways of addressing the problem, may suggest redirecting students to other European Union countries where teaching in English is increasing.
Roger Blows, the CVCP's international policy adviser, said students applying for places in Britain could be re-routed to Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands or Germany.
Mr Blows, who gave evidence to a House of Lords inquiry into student mobility last week, added: "You could either redirect European students to those locations, or you could increase exports by bumping up outflows of British students to those countries because language would be less of a barrier."
The CVCP would also like the European Commission to seek ways of improving the links between its proposed new higher education exchange programme and vocational training programmes.
"We have yet to be persuaded that the commission's proposals will promote lifelong learning," Mr Blows said. "They could introduce an education and training programme or have common applications and standard procedures for education and training."
Peers are expected to complete their inquiry by the end of March and to report after the Easter recess.