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Szilvia Schmitsek

Szilvia Profile Photo

Szilvia Schmitsek graduated with her PhD in Employment Research in July 2018. Details of her thesis, ‘Who are you to know who I am?’: a comprehensive study of youth at risk, can be viewed on the Warwick Research Archive Portal (WRAP) 

Szilvia started her PhD at the IER in October 2013, investigating comprehensive measures related to Early School Leaving (ESL) in Denmark, England and Hungary. She was supervised by Professor Jenny Bimrose and Dr Sally-Anne Barnes. Szilvia was awarded a Warwick Chancellor’s Scholarship for the duration of her studies. The focus of her research was the educational experiences of young people who had been at risk of dropping out and/or who had dropped out of secondary education, and subsequently went on to obtain a qualification at a second chance provision. Second chance provisions are designed to support the acquisition of self-efficacy and career adaptability, which led them to pursue their career in higher education and/or in the labour market.Her thesis is a qualitative cross-national comparative study, which focused on students’ lives and career trajectories with a comparative lens in depth.

Prior to coming to the IER, Szilvia completed a doctoral training programme in Education in 2011 at the Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest and worked for the university as a lecturer from 2008 to 2013. As a visiting scholar she became a member of the European Academic Network of Romani Studies at the Central European University, Budapest and had a chance to carry out a research on dropout issues at the Danske Paedagogiske Universiteit, Copenhagen. Besides her academic career she was professionally involved in an internationally recognised, nation-wide pilot programme called ‘Springboard’, which reduced the drop-out rate in 15 Hungarian secondary schools. ‘Springboard’ cooperated with international partner organizations such as APS International (Centre for School Improvement,Utrecht,NL) and E2C (The European Association of Cities and Second Chance Schools).

Previously she gained a BA in Social Science; Speech and Language Therapy and Special Education, an MA in Education and a Diploma in Media Studies. In addition, she has lived and worked as a teacher, youth worker, lecturer and researcher in Denmark, England and the Netherlands.

Her decision to pursue a PhD on ESL was strongly influenced by her commitment to disadvantaged youth, which had been her main field of interest for more than 20 years.

Research interests

Disadvantaged Youth, Minorities, Social Inclusion, Alternative Education, Special Education, Further Education, Higher Education, Lifelong Learning, Curriculum Reform, Support Systems (for schools), Career Guidance, Education Policies.


Schmitsek, S. (2020).‘Who are you to know who I am? Comparing the Experiences of Youth at Risk of Dropping Out in England, Denmark and Hungary. Compare: A Journal of Comparative and International Education

Schmitsek, S. (2020) 'Successful career' - The positive effects of second chance education on young people's career. British Journal of Education

Schmitsek, S. (2019). ‘A helping hand'- the role of career guidance in finding the right career pathway for at-risk students in three different country contexts (England, Denmark and Hungary). NICEC Journal Vol. No 43

Schmitsek, S. (2019). Danish Good Practices for Combatting Early School Leaving: a Case Study from Copenhagen. European Journal of Education Studies.Volume 5, Issue 11, ISSN: 2501-111

Schmitsek, S. (2015). Individual study pathways in Copenhagen I. [Egyeni tanulasi utak Koppenhagaban I.]. Education Sciences- Education-Research-Innovation, 2015 (3), 48-55. Retrieved from:

Schmitsek, S. (2015). Individual study pathways in Copenhagen II. [Egyeni tanulasi utak Koppenhagaban II.]. Education Sciences- Education-Research-Innovation. 2015 (4), 82-95. Retrieved from:

Schmitsek, S. (2015). ‘Who are you to know who I am?’- Summary of interviews conducted with dropouts in England, Denmark and Hungary. Conference paper. The European Sociological Association 12th Conference: ‘Differences, Inequalities and Sociological Imagination’, Prague, 25-28 August 2015. Institute of Sociology of the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague.

Schmitsek,S (2013). Dropout rate reducing strategies. Sanbun Publishers, New Delhi (ISBN 978-93-82393-31-3)

Schmitsek, S (2013). Dropout-rate reducing strategies in Denmark and Hungary. Educational Research (ISSN: 2141-5161)

Schmitsek, S (2012). SEA: Samsø Energy Academy. CB Magazine/I, Humlebaek,

Schmitsek, S (2011). Spring into vocational training with ‘Springboard’- realization of personalised pedagogy in vocational training for reducing drop-out rate. In: S. Klein (Ed.) Freedom of learning in Hungary, EDGE 2000, Budapest, pp.587-596 ( ISBN: 9789639760158)

Schmitsek, S (2011):Second Chance in Europe, E2C- good practices from Denmark. ÚPSZ 2011/1, Budapest

Szauer,Cs and Schmitsek, S (2011): Inovativna odborná príprava a komplexné služ by pre ludí s posthnutím v madarsku podla medzinárodnych skúseností/ Vocational trainings for persons with SEN and the good practices of the related complex services in Hungary EFETA, 1, rocnik XXI, Bratislava

Szauer,Cs.,Fehér, I.,Schüttler V and Schmitsek, S.(2010):The EU2020 Strategy and vocational school innovations accessible for persons with disabilities in Hungary. Gyógypedagógiai Szemle 2010/3, Budapest

Schmitsek, S (2010): If you miss it you miss out: Springboard (Dobbantó) Programme, one possible way of social and educational integration for students at the risk of drop-out. Annual Survey 2010, E2C Europe, Heerlen

Schmitsek,S (2010):Spectrum- an organisation dealing with people with autism. Fejlesztő Pedagógia 2010/III., Budapest


The role of alternative arenas in England, Denmark and Hungary. RESLeu Closing Conference. Antwerp, 23-25 January 2018

Individual study pathways in Copenhagen. The European Sociological Association Mid-Term Conference: ‘Education and Empowerment: Theories and Practices’. Milan, 12-14. August 2016

Dropout-rate reducing strategies in England, Denmark and Hungary.The European Educational Research Association Conference: Education and Transition - Contributions from Educational Research, Budapest, 7-11 September 2015

‘Who are you to know who I am?’- Summary of interviews conducted with dropouts in England, Denmark and Hungary. The European Sociological Association 12th Conference: Differences, Inequalities and Sociological Imagination’, Prague, 25-28 August 2015

Dropout-rate reducing strategies in Denmark and Hungary. European Sociological Association Mid-term Conference, Ghent, Belgium, 13-14 September 2012

Inclusion- reality or illusion? Ways of educational and social integration of vocational school students with SEN at the risk of drop-out. 2nd International Conference- Education for all, Warsaw, Poland, 22-25 September 2009

Ways of educational and social integration of vocational school students with SEN at the risk of drop-out. Advantages and disadvantages in education. Budapest, Hungary, 17-19 July 2009

Springboard (Dobbantó) Programme. School development and action research.Youth Event. Matoshinos, Portugal, 25-30 August 2009


Szilvia has been a part-time tutor at the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford, teaching online short courses in Public Policy Economics.


Szilvia has conducted fieldwork and has written reports in order to help the research team of Durham University evaluate different nation-wide projects, such as Writing About Values; FLASH Marking, which is testing the impact of a new approach to feedback in English GCSE classes.

Awards and prizes

The Vice Chancellor’s Scholarship (fully funded PhD programme), The University of Warwick, 2013-2017

Danish Government Scholarships for Foreign Nationals under The Cultural Agreements- Visiting Researcher, DPU, Copenhagen, August 2012- February 2013

Council of Europe- The Roma in Europe, Central European University, Budapest, June- July 2012

Danish Government Scholarships for Foreign Nationals under The Cultural Agreements- Crossing Borders Global Studies- Supporting Youth and Educators, Humlebæk, January-June 2012

Hubert Humphrey Fellowship Program (USA)- I was nominated for an alternate candidate status in the international competition for the academic year 2011-2012

Jean Monnet Summer School on Social Integration and the Romany Minority in Europe Today: Linking Policy and Research to Work against Poverty, Discrimination and Ethnic conflict, Central European University, Budapest 21 June- 9 July 2010

Erasmus Scholarship, University of Vienna, October 2009

Professional memberships

European Academic Network on Romani Studies

European Sociological Association