MELBOURNE, AAP – Victoria will begin welcoming international students back to the state from the end of this year, if the federal government agrees.

The state has submitted a plan proposing the students will be in addition to Victoria’s existing international arrivals cap, so they don’t displace returning Australians.

“This sensible plan will progressively get students who are enrolled at Victorian universities, TAFEs and colleges safely into Victoria so they can undertake their studies,” state Trade Minister Martin Pakula said on Friday.

“A gradual return of international students means we can keep Victorians safe and not affect places for returning Australians.”

Under stage one of the plan, 120 places will be available each week for international university students.

Those undertaking practical work to continue or complete their degrees or postgraduate research students will be prioritised.

Universities will fund extra quarantine places for student visa holders, who will have to cover the cost of their flight to Melbourne.

Students will be quarantined in dedicated accommodation managed by COVID-19 Quarantine Victoria.

Stage two will cover arrivals of international students enrolled in TAFEs, English-language courses, private colleges and secondary schools.

International student education generates billions for the Victorian economy and supports tens of thousands of jobs.

Around 47,000 international students are enrolled with Victorian institutions but remain offshore because Australia’s international borders are closed due to coronavirus.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Duncan Maskell said he’s looking forward to federal Education Minister Alan Tudge approving the plan as soon as possible.

There are more than 75,000 students from 100 countries currently studying in Victoria.