But thinking about it...
It seems strange that the system administrator, who seems to be a very clever guy should be so specific about what is required to run moodle and yet incorrect.
So it occurs to me that perhaps
may needed in *our particular case*, as a result of the way that our servers are set up.
I think that my university is using a load sharing (Free BSD based) server array.
As a result of the use of this sort of array, perhaps, session data is usually lost. I seem to remember being told that this was the case.
I.e. that there are perhaps a number of machines, and these provide services as virtual hosts, in that the same URL may be served by an undetermined physical machine. In this case, perhaps, the apache settings may need to be such that so as not to loose the session data, php needs to execute as root.
Of course one might suggest that they stop using the server array that they are using, and set things up in a different way. Or provide a seperate server for Moodle (which was his suggestion).
But before I say something which may be rather trivial (like "I don't need to set BecomeRoot true on my server," "yeah sure...") has anyone heard of server arrays of this type, wherein is is essential to set "BecomeRoot true"?