The outstanding students and institutions that make up Victoria's thriving international education sector have been celebrated at a ceremony for the 2016 Victorian International Education Awards.

Sixteen winners were presented with the coveted awards during the event at Government House to recognise the achievements of Victoria's 175,000 international students and the leading education providers that support them.

Victoria's Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade – now responsible for Victoria's international education sector – opened the awards ceremony and reiterated the importance of the sector to Victoria's overall trade revenues while "changing people's lives for the better".

Now in its fourth year, the Victorian Education Awards include two Premier's awards and introduced two new categories this year for International Student of the Year (Regional) and International Alumnus of the Year.

The spread of student award winners for 2016 was a clear indication of the diversity that's grown in the sector, with seven different countries represented across the categories.

This year's student winners are awarded up to A$10,000 to go towards their studies at one of Victoria's educational institutions.

Student winners also go on to become ambassadors for the Victorian Government's Study Melbourne initiative, which promotes the State's leading education capabilities to the world.

A number of Victoria's higher education, English language and vocational education and training institutions were also presented with awards, with the sheer number of applicants this year showing how robust the sector has become.

As Victoria's largest service based export, international education reached a record high contributing of A$5.8 billion to the state's economy in 2015 and now supports more than 30,000 jobs across the state.

Melbourne is one of the world's premier education destinations for international students, with QS Best Student Cities recently ranking it number two in the world – behind Paris and ahead of Tokyo, London and Sydney.