There is little prospect of international students and workers arriving this year in large numbers, Premier Daniel Andrews has revealed.
The Victorian leader said this week tens of thousands of international students returning to Australia was "going to be incredibly challenging, if not impossible" this year due to coronavirus.
"I take no joy in saying that, but I try to be as frank as possible about that," he said.
The Premier said he was working closely with the federal government on the matter.
"I think 20,000-30,000 students this year is going to be really hard to the point I don't think we can do that," he said.
"I think 25,000 seasonal workers is equally difficult.
"We will have announcements to make soon. It's quite a complex matter, whoever we bring in."
Mr Andrews said the number one priority was getting Australians trapped overseas back home.
He said he had no proposal before him about overseas students but the state government was "well-placed" to make announcements on seasonal workers soon.
"But it will be a fraction of what industry said they wanted, we just can't do 25,000 (workers)," he said.
He said in some parts of the country the "tyranny of distance works really well" in terms of having greater confidence in on-farm quarantine - but not in Victoria.
"We think hotel quarantine is what has to happen, and I do hope I can make some announcements quite soon," the Premier said.
"The only thing that will be getting the tick is things that are safe."
There were 32 international students living at the Deakin University Warrnambool campus last year with all students attending tutorials and lectures online.
Deakin south-west Victoria chief executive officer Grant Sutherland said the enrolment period for the 2021 academic year was still underway and it was "too early for enrolment numbers".
"Naturally given the border closures, international student interest is significantly down so far, despite the option to study off-shore on Deakin's online platforms," he said.
"International students do not represent a large cohort at the Warrnambool campus but their presence enriches the learning experience of all students and the broader community.
"We look forward to welcoming international students at the campus again when there is a safe pathway in place."
Mr Sutherland said Deakin continued to advocate for the "ongoing safe governance of Australia and its states and territories through the pandemic, which includes if feasible, a pathway for the return of international students in 2021".
"Of course, the COVID-19 pandemic is a very changeable situation, and there are many interdependencies which need to be considered in decision-making," he said.
"Deakin fully supports the Victorian and federal governments in this process - we're continuing to work closely with the state government to establish a safe pathway."
Mr Sutherland said all students, including internationally-based students, had access to Deakin's online education platforms.
"Where possible, Deakin has re-structured its courses to accommodate for distance learning in the first trimester of 2021 (starting March 8), then transitioning to in-country, on-campus learning when borders re-open," he said.
"In the event that border closures extend further, Deakin will continue to re-evaluate its course components to cater for those students still studying from overseas locations - this is an ongoing process."