COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Convicted mass killer Anders Behring Breivik has been admitted to the University of Oslo’s political science program — although he will stay in his cell to study, the university’s rector said Friday.
The 36-year-old, right-wing extremist is serving a 21-year prison sentence for killing 77 people in politically motivated bomb-and-gun massacres in 2011. The sentence can be extended when it expires.
“All inmates in Norwegian prisons are entitled to higher education in Norway if they meet the admission requirements,” University rector Ole Petter Ottersen said Friday in an email to The Associated Press.
Yet two years ago, Breivik’s application had been rejected after the university said his qualifications were insufficient. At the time, the submission stirred a debate in Norway over whether someone convicted of such a horrific crime should even be considered for higher education.
Norway has a rehabilitation-focused justice system aimed at helping inmates prepare for life after they get out, which includes giving them the right to pursue higher education. Since his 2012 conviction, Breivik has been studying in jail.
“He then didn’t meet the admission requirements. Now his grades live up to what is expected,” university spokeswoman Marina Tofting said Friday.
Breivik will begin the university program in August. Prison regulations will prevent him from going to the Oslo campus, attending classes, accessing digital learning resources or having any contact with students or university staff, Ottersen said.
“The communication between the university and Breivik will take place via a contact person in prison,” Ottersen said, adding penitentiary regulations “entail that he will follow the program by means of independent study in his prison cell.”
Breivik’s lawyer was not immediately available for comment on the development.