This article investigates the working relationships between UK universities and Chinese student recruitment agents. Data draw on insights from the senior management of ten UK institutions. Findings reveal that the ranking position of a university is the ultimate source of power that defines its position in the international HE network of universities and agents. In addition, this article throws light on the debate of power relations between universities and agents in the international HE context and discusses the various sources of power that universities could employ to counterbalance the influence of rankings and to negotiate their network positions. Finally, the findings offer practical advice to university managements and government policy makers by discussing how universities of different ranking positions could exercise their sources of power to better leverage their relationships with Chinese agents.