The Migration Council in Australia has suggested that there should be a visa lottery for international students to address the severe shortage of skilled professionals in certain areas.

In a report it suggests that to address the skills shortage over the medium term there should be a visa lottery of up to 10,000 international students from across the globe. As demand to come to Australia generally outstrips the number of available places, a visa lottery would ensure a fair approach.

"Targeting students across the world in disciplines such as, amongst others, computer science and engineering would help build the workforce of the future. This will supercharge the innovation ecosystem with talent and ideas," the report says.


It suggests that each graduate would be offered a four year working visa without the requirement of a sponsoring employer instead of getting bogged down with various visa criteria.

Under the plan there would be a select number of key requirements such as being undergraduate or holding Master's degree from a recognised world leading university in a designated field of interest, being under 30 and having a high proficiency in English. Applicants would also have to pass standard health and character requirements.

The report says that other requirements would add unnecessary detail to what is a simple policy idea. To link these new migrants to innovation, anyone who can document a successful new business would be extended automatic permanent residency while other standard pathways to permanent residency would remain open.

"The timing for an idea like this is crucial. At the moment, other countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are turning away international students who complete university qualifications. New ideas and best practice innovation are going to waste and Australia can capitalize," the report explains.

"In addition, with some of the IT departments at universities in Asia, an ability to open up people to people links in the Asian Century would further enmesh Australia into our region. Lastly, running a visa lottery would be an innovative approach in itself," it adds.

According to the report more than 10,000 graduates could be expected to apply, requiring the need for a sorting mechanism like a lottery. Working out the mechanics and process would add another policy tool to the Australian migration framework.

"10,000 temporary work visas is a small addition to the current migration trends but if the policy is right, the effects for the start-up environment in Australia will be enormous," the report adds.

"Across the world, countries like the United States and the United Kingdom are putting up barriers to new migrants. International students are being kicked out despite wanting to stay. A visa lottery aimed at these motivated young students from across the world would be Australia's opportunity. Young migrants are willing to take risks and have an appetite for disruption, critical qualities for an innovative economy," said Henry Sherrell, of the Migration Council.

"This new idea would attract people who can generate ideas within our local environment. Successful business ideas are more likely to be created and supported by those who already live in Australia as people are fully aware of regulatory frameworks, supply chains and consumer markets, amongst other factors," he added.