University of Melbourne universities
(Image: Unsplash/Eriksson Luo)

Australia faces major losses from its $38 billion export revenue higher education sector unless the government and university leaders can resolve a diabolical problem created by the Melbourne lockdown and the need to further curb what is already just a trickle of foreign arrivals at airports across the country.

And with all international flights to Melbourne suspended, plans to allow at least a small number of foreign students to return to Victoria have been put on hold.

But with major problems exposed in the Victorian quarantine system for incoming travellers, and other states warning their systems were struggling, the federal government is moving to cut down on inbound international travel -- which at the moment is almost entirely Australians returning from overseas.