Since 2010, Greece has experienced an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis, which continues to have tremendous social impact. Austerity measures and policy cuts have included a dis-investment in social work and social care and more recently the abolition of one of the four national Social Work Departments providing qualifying social work education. In this context, this study addresses the following question: how does pre-qualifying social work education in Greece influence students’ ability to manage value tensions in relation to anti-oppressive practice? Using a case study methodology, the research was based in one Social Work Department (subsequently abolished). Data were collected through semi-structured interviews from social work students at the beginning and the end of their professional education (n=32) and once from academic staff/placement supervisors (n=10). Data were analysed drawing on grounded theory techniques. In this paper only one particular dataset is considered in detail: the attitudes and experiences of final year students. The main findings indicate students’ narrow understandings and individualistic approaches towards oppression, reflecting an urgent need to redefine social work education and practice in Greece according to current social justice concerns. Specifically, social work education needs to give greater weight to a structural perspective on the dynamics of oppression. Although focussed on Greece, the paper offers a critical debate of contemporary relevance for social work education in many European nation states.