Statements of graduate attributes have gained prominence in universities nationally and internationally in recent years (Barrie, 2006; Bowden, Hart, King, Trigwell, & Watts, 2002; Jones, 2009). Increasingly, such statements include global citizenship as an “attitude or stance towards the world” that students develop during their studies (Barrie, 2004). This paper draws on a comparative analysis of Australian university graduate attributes statements from the last fifteen years (Bosanquet, Winchester-Seeto & Rowe, 2010) to examine the meanings of global citizenship in a higher education context. In describing global citizenship, institutions frequently refer to a plethora of related concepts including intercultural awareness, cross-cultural competency, inclusivity, diversity, globalisation, sustainability, leadership, multiculturalism, internationalisation and community engagement. A review of the literature around graduate attributes demonstrates four broad conceptions of their purpose: employability; lifelong learning; preparing for an uncertain future; and acting for the social good (Barnett, 2004; Barrie & Prosser, 2004; Bridgstock, 2009; Pitman and Broomhall, 2009). The latter two are closely aligned with the attribute of global citizenship, with an emphasis on transforming the student, the curriculum and the future (Bowden & Marton, 1998) and acting to benefit the broader community (Bowden et al, 2002). This paper examines three challenges in embedding global citizenship – however it might be defined – as a graduate attribute. First, the values and assumptions concerning the purpose and nature of higher education evident in graduate attribute statements (Barrie & Prosser, 2004) and institutional definitions of global citizenship. Second, the difficulties of impacting on teaching practice (Harvey & Kamvounias, 2008; Hughes & Barrie, 2009) in a context of rapid curriculum development. Third, the impact on students. In Australia, this is a particular challenge in light of the Bradley Review of Higher Education, which has prompted a major change in student cohort, with a 20% increase in students from lower socio-economic populations (Bradley, Noonan, Nugent, Sacles 2008).