Union continues bid to dismiss university director

The leader of the employees’ union of the University of Technology, Mauritius (UTM) has written to the prime minister demanding the dismissal of the university’s director whom he accuses of causing long-term damage to the institution.

In March Vikash Sewsagur, president of the union, sent to Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth a list of 33 complaints against UTM’s Director General Sharmila Seetulsingh-Goorah, reported L’Express.

According to Sewsagur, conditions had deteriorated at UTM since Seetulsingh-Goorah took over two-and-a-half years ago. “Our institution is suffering. As a pioneer of UTM I believe the university is threatened.”

Sewsagur’s letter in March was the second the union had sent to Jugnauth this year demanding Seetulsingh-Goorah’s axing. In the first, sent in February, Sewsagur described the situation as going “from bad to worse”, saying no annual report had been published under Seetulsingh-Goorah and citing industrial relations “full of distrust”, financial difficulties and late staff payments and salaries, reported Indian Ocean Network News.

The union also claimed there was no strategic plan for UTM, the accounts for the governing board were submitted late, and the university’s infrastructure and facilities were in a bad state.

ION News reported that a preliminary audit on UTM, carried out by external examiners, was damning for the university and its management, and directly implicated Seetulsingh-Goorah.

However, Seetulsingh-Goorah said the report was not final and she could not comment on something that was still in progress.

Seetulsingh-Goorah’s contract as UTM director runs until 27 July. She told L’Express in an interview in March: “These people were opposed to my appointment well before I took up the post. There were old boys’ networks before which don’t exist anymore. You’re mistaken if you believe ours is a modern society and people accept being led by a woman working responsibly.”

She said she was far from being someone who ran away, and denied there was a management problem.

“I’m there for the good times and the bad. If there’s a problem, people come to see me and we discuss it. I don’t want to waste my time replying to gibberish. I inherited a catastrophic situation concerning medical studies, which I was able to resolve.”

Before her arrival accounts had not been submitted to the audit office since 2010, and annual reports not sent to the responsible ministry since 2002, among other irregularities, she said.

But she had introduced the first phase of an integrated information system to improve administration in departments of finance, human resources, procurement and student affairs.

She also oversaw an increase allocation from the government. “Before I arrived the government budget was MUR9 million (US$270,000) a year. Now it is MUR20 million (US$590,000), but that represents only 6% of our operating costs,” which were MUR223 million (US$6.6 million), she said.

If her contract at UTM is not renewed in July, she would return to her post at the University of Mauritius, where she has been tenured for 26 years, and from where she is currently on leave of absence. – Compiled by Jane Marshall

This article is drawn from local media.
University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.