University of KwaZulu-Natal Picture: Se-Anne Rall
Durban - A University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) professor, who allegedly made almost R200 000 from a side-line job assisting students, has been placed on suspension after allegations of gross misconduct and breach of internal policies were levelled against him.

Professor Muhammad Hoque, an associate professor at UKZN’s Graduate School of Business and Leadership, has been placed on paid suspension pending the outcome of his disciplinary inquiry.

According to a notice of intention to discipline, the university alleged Hoque charged students, other universities and a fellow lecturer between R3 000 and R50 000 for data coding and capturing, data analysis, report writing and consultation.

UKZN spokesperson Ashton Bodrick confirmed Hoque’s suspension, adding that the disciplinary process against him was under way.

“This is an internal process and as such we are not in a position to comment further at this stage,” Bodrick said.

In a letter sent to Hoque, which The Mercury has seen, UKZN notified him of its intention to discipline him in June this year, giving him until July 1 to respond to the allegations.

Bodrick could not confirm if Hoque responded in writing to the allegations. Calls and emails sent by The Mercury to Hoque went unanswered.

In the letter, UKZN alleged that from January 2014 to December 2018, Hoque issued invoices to various students within and outside of UKZN, as well as other institutions and organisations, for private remunerative work.

“The work consisted of data analysis, data coding and capturing, report writing, and statistical analysis in the amount of R195 825.”

The letter detailed the names of the students and institutions that Hoque allegedly did work for, including the Unisa Research Office, which was billed R50 000.

At least 20 students from UKZN, the Mangosuthu University of Technology and Durban University of Technology were listed as those who allegedly paid Hoque.

The letter, signed by the acting dean and head of the university business school, Ana Martins, stated that Hoque’s alleged conduct amounted to gross misconduct, conflict of interest and dishonesty.

It also accused him of breaching university policies and procedures including disclosure of interests, the UKZN ethics statement, policy of private remunerative work, policy on research ethics and plagiarism policy and procedures.

“In that you did not obtain the requisite permission to embark on the private remunerative work, and the nature and content of the work done for some of the students breached the aforementioned policies and procedures. It is further alleged that you actively solicited the private remunerative work during the course and scope of your employment with UKZN,” the letter said.

Martins also stated that it was alleged Hoque acted in a manner that was dishonest, and which conflicted with the interests of UKZN when motivating for another professor to be promoted to the position of senior lecturer.

The Mercury