William Muirden gives broad approach to commercial studies; WEA courses boom
Muirden business college in King William Street south, Adelaide.
William Muirden, founder of Muirden College, still operating in King William Street, Adelaide, brought the benefits of a broader education to commercial studies.
In 1892, Scottish-born Muirden took over the Adelaide Shorthand Institute, the city’s first business college (1887) from his brother Alexander.
Muirden and William Hogg later formed the Shorthand and Business Training Academy. From 1895, it began teaching country students via correspondence.
In 1900, Muirden started his own business college with core subjects such as shorthand, bookkeeping and typing. But his success in getting students into 90% of Adelaide businesses and into the federal and state public service was to include general subjects into his curriculum.
From 1913-34, Muirden published his Commonwealth Series on grammar, spelling, commercial practice etc. It was used by students for public exams all over Australia. He formed William Muirden Book Club and belonged to Wayville Literary Society.
In 1914, Muirden, as a strong advocate for commercial education to be treated as academic subject, was sent by the state government to inquire into commercial and technical education in Britain and Europe.
The Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) in South Australia in 2012 claimed to be Australia's largest non-government adult community education organisation.
It was formed in 1914 after a visit to Australia by its English founders Albert and Francis Mansbridge. The aim was for workingmen to “undertake social and political studies, equipping them to become effective leaders of working-class movements”.
Links to Adelaide University ended in 1957-58 when WEA opened a teaching centre on South Terrace and larger premises in Angas Street in 1983 as it moved to bigger variety of studies and courses.