The Government of Tamil Nadu established the Periyar University at Salem on 17th September 1997 as per the provisions of the Periyar University Act, 1997. The University covers the area comprising the districts of Salem, Namakkal, Dharmapuri and Krishnagiri. The University got the 12(B) and 2f status from the University Grants Commission and has been accredited by NAAC with B+ grade in 2007. The University is named after the Great Social Reformer E.V.Ramasamyaffectionally called 'ThanthaiPeriyar'. The University aims at developing knowledge in various fields to realize the maxim inscribed in the logo "ArivalVilayumUlagu" (Wisdom Maketh World)."Holistic development of the students" is the primary objective of the esteemed Periyar University. The University is located on the National Highway (NH7) towards Bangalore at about 8 Kms from New Bus Stand, Salem. It is well connected by frequent city bus services linking Salem and other places like, Omalur, Dharmapuri, Krishnagiri and Mettur.
Periyar University imparts higher education at three levels, i.e., through its Departments of Study and Research, Periyar Institute of Distance Education (PRIDE) and the affiliated colleges. The University has twenty five departments of study offering Post Graduate & Research Programmes and eighty one affiliated colleges, five Constituent Colleges and one PG Extension Centres .
Periyar Institute of Administrative Studies (PERIAS) started functioning from March 2009. Apart from training students for preliminary and main examinations for the Civil Services, the institute plans to conduct various coaching classes for examinations conducted by different organisations like Tamil Nadu Public Service Commission (TNPSC) and Staff Selection Commission (SSC) in the near future. To make a significant mark during the centenary celebrations of Perarignar Anna, a chair has been established after his name as "Anna Chair" in May 2009. It crystallizes the greatest thought provoking ideas of Anna for the development of children, youth and women in the country. The Government of Tamil Nadu has generously sanctioned One Crore rubees for the academic and research activities of the Centre. Department of Geology proposes to establish a Centre for Geoinformatics and Planetary Studies in the current academic year. Periyar Institute of Distance Education (PRIDE) is imbibing knowledge into the veins of the students who could not take up the regular academic studies due to their economic condition. PRIDE has three hundred and eighty three study centres throughout India and six abroad.