A right-wing extremist, Breivik is currently serving a 21-year sentence for the July 25 massacre in 2011 that claimed the lives of 77 people. At the time, he set off a car bomb that blew apart a government building in Oslo, then fired on a youth camp on nearby Utoeye Island, as many of his victims ran and swam for their lives. He claimed he was reacting against the Islamist-Marxist takeover of Europe.
His prison sentence can be extended if he is deemed to still be a threat to society.
Despite his horrific crime, Norway’s rehabilitation-focused justice system entitles Brievik to pursue higher education.
"All inmates in Norwegian prisons are entitled to higher education in Norway if they meet the admission requirements," university Rector Ole Petter Ottersen said in an email to the Associated Press. Brievik had applied to the program two years ago, but was rejected for not meeting the required qualifications.
Saying that the university faced "moral dilemmas" in their decision to accept him, Ottersen added, "I realize there are many feelings involved here. He tried to demolish the system. We have to stay faithful to it."
Before the massacre, Breivik had attended high schools in Norway, but had not continued his secondary education. Since his conviction in 2012, the mass murderer had been studying course modules during his time in prison, and had expressed an interest in pursuing a higher education degree to his followers and contacts.
Ironically, the program Breivik will enroll in includes courses on democracy, human rights, and respect for minorities. Even more unsettling is the fact that some of the university’s students are survivors of his 2011 attacks, and some lost family members and friends in the massacre.
"It is important to us that he remains in his cell," Lisbeth Kristine Roeyneland of the victims’ support group told the Norwegian news agency. "To us, it is irrelevant whether he sits there and reads fiction or whether he is studying a book of political science."
Prior to the attack, Breivik emailed a 1,500-page anti-Muslim manifesto, which he titled a "European Declaration of Independence." He claimed to be part of the 12th century organization the Knights Templar.
Since his imprisonment, Breivik has written and received letters from hundreds of contacts, saying he wanted to build a network of right-wing activists, and drum up support for his anti-immigration and anti-Islamic ideology.