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Mangosuthu University of Technology (MUT), which has been rocked by allegations of irregularities, has dismissed suggestions that it has requested an administrator.

In November, the Department of Higher Education and Training briefed MPs on the state of four universities, some of which have been rocked by allegations of rampant corruption, fraud and maladministration.

The universities were University of Zululand, Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Walter Sisulu University and Mangosuthu.

In a move seen as unusual, Mangosuthu was said to have requested an administrator.

However, spokeswoman Mbali Mkhize said the chairman of the university council had written to Higher Education Minister Hlengiwe Mkhize requesting the appointment of an independent assessor, which she said was different from an administrator.

"An independent assessor is a person appointed by the minister of higher education and training to probe governance shortcomings in a university and to propose possible remedies.

"The initiative to appoint an independent assessor can come from either a university council or from the minister," the spokeswoman said.

"An administrator is an official appointed by the minister in the absence of or upon the dissolution of council. Currently, MUT has a new council that seeks to understand what went wrong in the past so that it can place MUT on a firm footing.

"So the request for the services of an independent assessor is for developmental purposes. Far from being an admission of failure, this request is a demonstration of the new council’s determination to ensure good governance at MUT."

In 2016, the university was plunged into chaos after six senior officials including the vice-chancellor were placed on suspension. The six officials resigned when a forensic report into allegations of financial mismanagement was concluded. The institution is yet to fill some of the vacancies.

MPs have demanded that the university take action against implicated officials, even if they had left the institution.

"The principal purpose of this assessment should be to try and identify any governance failures in the past and the possible complicity of the previous council. It is therefore the desire of the new council to make sure that there is no repeat of such failures. So the request of the services of an independent assessor is a corrective initiative of the new council to build a new MUT," the spokeswoman said.

phakathib@businesslive.co.za

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