Functions of the Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSREC) include the administration of the University of the Free State’s Health Sciences Research Ethics Committee (HSREC).

The HSREC office manages the systems, administration and operations of Health Research Ethics review.

All health research must, in terms of the National Health Act No 61.2003, be reviewed and approved by an accredited research ethics committee prior to the start of any research activities that anticipate interaction with human participants, the use of potentially identifiable personal records, tissue specimens or other information.

The primary purpose of the HSREC is to support researchers towards compliance in the protection of human participant safety, rights and welfare in health research.

The objectives of the HSREC are:

  • to protect the human participant in research
  • to acknowledge human rights in health research
  • to maintain high ethical standards in health research
  • to foster an awareness of ethical aspects in the health sciences
  • to prevent impermissible research and research practices

The composition and function of the HSREC must meet standards laid down in the Department of Health’s Ethics in Health Research: Principles, Structures and Processes, 2015, and requirements specified in the US Federalwide Assurance (FWA). The HSREC aims to meet these requirements as far as reasonably possible.


The scope of practice of the HSREC is applicable to:

1. Members of the Faculty of Health Sciences:

  • Any research to be conducted by members of the Faculty of Health Sciences must be submitted to the HSREC for review and approval.
  • Research conducted abroad by members of the Faculty of Health Sciences must be submitted to the relevant Ethics Committee for approval as stipulated. This letter of approval should be forwarded to the HSREC, which will take note of the approval.
  • Should the researcher prefer to submit the application to the HSREC of this university, such protocol will be dealt with according to the Standard Operating Procedures.

2. Students (under- and postgraduate) of the Faculty of Health Sciences.

3. Any other member of a faculty or department at the University of the Free State.

4. Any other person or institution seeking ethical approval for research studies conducted in the Free State, including:

  • Private organisations/individuals
  • Pharmaceutical companies
  • Governmental departments
  • NGOs (non-governmental organisations)
  • Other higher-education institutions
  • Other research institutions/organisations

HSREC Preparation Guide

HSREC Dates 2024

Standard Operating Procedures and Guidelines

HSREC Research Data Retention Plan

FoHS Ethics Review Policy

HSREC Data Management Plan

HSREC Terms of Reference (TOR) and Member Code of Conduct for HSREC committee members.

Demonstration Videos, Links and Guidelines

Investigator Declarations  HSREC_19 

Contact us

Consult Service

The HSREC office strives to create a service-friendly environment where researchers can access support and guidance for all ethical and regulatory aspects of health research. Contact our office to book a consult, where you will be provided with one-on-one guidance on submitting a protocol for ethics review.

The office will also facilitate short group information sessions on health research ethics administration upon invitation.

Federalwide assurance (FWA)

The HSREC is registered as an institutional review board (IRB) with the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) of the USA Department of Health and Human Services: 

  • IRB organisation identifier: IRB00006240
  • Unique Assurance Number: FWA00012784
  • Unique Organisation Number: IORG0005187


Central Information Office
T: +27 51 401 3739
F: +27 86 579 5154

E: StudentAdminFHS@ufs.ac.za

Student Administration
Faculty Administration

Health sciences block next to contact

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