COPENHAGEN — 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, a university official said Friday.
The 36-year-old right-wing extremist is serving 21 years in prison for killing 77 people in antigovernment, anti-immigrant attacks 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 in an e-mail Friday.
Breivik’s application was rejected two years ago, when his qualifications were deemed insufficient. His request stirred a debate in Norway over whether someone convicted of such a horrific crime should be considered for admission.
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.
Before the 2011 massacres, Breivik attended high schools in Norway and took an online course in small business management. But he had not completed college, which he has been working on since his 2012 conviction.
‘‘He then didn’t meet the admission requirements. Now his grades live up to what is expected,’’ Oslo spokeswoman Marina Tofting said.
Breivik will begin the university program in August. Prison regulations will prevent him from going to the campus, or having any contact with students or staff, Ottersen said.
‘‘It is important to us that he remains in his cell,’’ Lisbeth Kristine Roeyneland, with a support group for the victims, told the news agency NTB. ‘‘To us, it is irrelevant whether he sits there and reads fiction or whether he is studying a book of political science.’’