John MacLean Internet Archive                                                    From the Scottish Republican Socialist Movement

A Labour College For Scotland

by John Maclean

First published: Prepared by John MacLean & finished by Jas.D. MacDougall while MacLean was imprisioned in 1916.
Transcription\HTML Markup: Scottish Republican Socialist Movement Archive in 2002 and David Walters in 2003
Copyleft: John MacLean Internet Archive (, 2003. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License

For some years an Economic and Industrial History Class has been conducted in Glasgow during winter. This year the membership has reached almost 450. Out of the Class has been formed a Committee to promote a Labour College for Scotland. It is intended to call a Conference of delegates from all working class organisations early in 1916 to discuss the question and establish a more representative provisional committee for the realisation of a Labour College.

The Universities and other institutions for higher education have for their object the training of men and women to run capitalist society in the interests of the wealthy. We think the time has come for an independent College, financed and controlled by the working class, in which workers might be trained for the battle against the masters.

Such a College could be conveniently established in Glasgow. Students might attend the College each day for three months. The College might be run for three terms a year:- October till December, January till March, and April till June.

Such subjects as Economics; General and Industrial History; History, Structure, and Problems of Trade Unions; History, etc., of Co-operation; Laws affecting Labour; Business Methods applied to Labour Organisations; English Composition and Literature; Arithmetic and Algebra, etc., might be studied.

The only sound method of financing the scheme would be by the raising of a compulsory levy of a penny a month (say) through the trades organisations. A hundred would thus be obtained from 2,000 workers in a year.

Students brought from the workshop might require maintenance bursaries rising to as much as 2 a week (say). A student per time at 2 a week, or three students a year, would cost 78 at the extreme rate. Out of the 100 would thus be left at least 22 for staffing and other expenses. The less the bursary the more students could avail themselves of the College privileges.

A hundred thousand workers at a farthing a week levy could in this way maintain a College of 50 Students a term, or a 150 a year.

This need not prevent organisations other than trade unions, or individuals interested in education, giving grants for the support of the institution.

Students sent by contributing bodies would have to be selected by these bodies; by ballot and from one work or district per man preferably, so that each work or district would have its just number of students. Students ought to be selected for both enthusiasm for knowledge and activity in the workers’ movement.

This need not preclude private students from attending the College on payment of a fixed fee.

The lecturers would be at the disposal of those willing to form evening and week-end classes, so that all might have a chance of benefiting by their support of the College.

The Board of Directors might be composed of representatives of contributing bodies, one per 100 or part therof (say). The Directors ought to be selected in the same way as the students, the same qualifications being expected.

Remember that the Ruskin College at Oxford has been maintained by several trade unions and co- operative organisations, and that the Plebs College in London is maintained by the Welsh miners and the railwaymen.

It is surely now time for Scotland to shoot ahead and again assume that pride of place in education so long the boast of our fathers.

We know that you are interested in education. We therefore desire you to discuss this College proposition in your workshop, at your union branch, with your friends in the train, in Church, in Chapel. If this is honestly done we feel confident that the College will be in full swing by October, 1916.


Sub- Committee

H. MULHOLLAND, Sheet Iron Workers
T.SCOTT, Kinning Park Co-op
JAS. NEILSON, Sheet Metal Workers
P. McDONALD, Postal
W. LEONARD, Furnishing Trades
JAS. D. MACDOUGALL, Lecturer in Industrial History.
JOHN MACLEAN, Lecturer in Economics




�� �