Greece has been a site of various crises in recent years: firstly, the financial crash of 2008; secondly, the ongoing ‘refugee crisis’, which peaked in 2015; and thirdly, the current COVID-19 pandemic. This paper addresses the first of these crises, and particularly how state responses to increased migration flows shape young refugees’ (aged 15–25) (re-)engagement with post-15 learning opportunities upon arrival in the country. It is based on semi-structured interviews with young refugees living in Thessaloniki, conducted as part of an ethnographic doctoral project on educational decision-making. The findings reveal that three key institutional bordering practices in Greece—namely the bordering of space (via encampment), time (via enforced waiting), and public services (via administrative barriers)—played central roles in young refugees’ (re-)engagement with post-15 education; often causing their dreams to be diverted or downgraded. However, with determination and the support of willing gatekeepers, refugee youth found ways to (re)construct adapted learning trajectories despite, and in response to, these arrival challenges.

DOI: 10.3390/socsci10110421
ISSN: 20760760