Mass murderer admitted: Anders Breivik Oslo University

Published: July 17, 2015

Mass murderer admitted: Anders Breivik Oslo University, Anders Breivik, the Norwegian serial killer, has been admitted to a course at the country’s oldest and most illustrious university – though he will study from his prison cell and will not come into contact with staff or students.

Norway’s most infamous citizen, jailed for 21 years for shooting dead 69 students at a summer camp in 2011 after a bomb he planted in Oslo killed a further eight people, announced his intention to study politics and write books in 2012.

He applied to Oslo University the following year but was turned down because he did not meet its criteria. Since then he has taken courses in prison and now qualifies for admission.

All Norwegian prisoners have the right to pursue higher education if they meet the admission requirements and compete successfully against other applicants.

Breivik will study political science, during which he will learn about democracy and justice, pluralism and respect for human rights, minorities and fundamental freedoms, said the university’s rector, Ole Petter Ottersen. Prison regulations prevent him from accessing digital learning resources or communicating with other students through the internet.

University staff who do not consent to teaching him can abstain, Ottersen said. “Even though there are a lot of strong feelings about this, teachers and staff members realise we have to stick to the rules,” Ottersen said. He added that denying Breivik the right to study would be “a slippery slope”.

“The last thing we would do is introduce a separate law for Breivik. It is a person’s right to be admitted to university when they are qualified, and if you deny somebody that right it is the equivalent to meting out an additional punishment, which is not the university’s role.”

Ottersen said he had expected more objections from the public, but it was “remarkable” how few people had taken a stance against the university’s position. “One explanation is that when he was taken to court there was a tremendous debate whether he should be granted the same rights and opportunities as any other person, and that discussion concluded that he should.”

The university’s political science degree consists of nine subjects, five of which are compulsory seminars, suggesting Breivik can start the degree but will be unable to graduate, Dag Harald Claes, of the department of political science, told Norwegian media.

Lisbeth Kristine Røyneland, who lost her 18-year-old daughter Synne in the Utøya massacre, said: “For us it is irrelevant if he sits in his cell and reads fiction or whether he is studying a book of political science.” Røyneland heads the national support group for survivors of the attack.

Four years after Breivik’s rampage on 22 July 2011, the Utøya summer camp is reopening in August with record numbers attending, including Ayat al-Qurmezi, the 24-year-old Bahraini poet and activist, and former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.


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