International students who have been shut out of the country since the pandemic reached Australia will be given a lifeline to return to study in South Australia.

A pilot program to bring back a number of international students to the state has received the green light from the federal government, meaning students could be back within weeks.

Around 300 students will be allowed back, arriving on flights spread across November through to January next year.

However, any Australian citizens looking to return home will have priority over the international students.

Adelaide University will welcome back 160 students, with UniSA to bring back 90 and Flinders Uni 45 students.

Students will have to follow SA Health protocols and will be escorted to quarantine hotels upon their arrival.

The program will form part of a proof-of-concept for the return of more students to the country.

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The idea was first raised in August, with the arrival date being pushed back several times following the Victorian outbreak and federal opposition to the plan.