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.Ramasamy affectionally called "Thanthai Periyar". The University aims at developing knowledge in various fields to realize the maxim inscribed in the logo "Arival Vilayum Ulagu" (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 eighteen departments of study offering Post Graduate and Research Programmes and sixty six affiliated colleges. The Choice Based Credit System (CBCS) has been introduced for the various courses offered by the University from 2008-09 onwards. Periyar University is offering Four Certificate Courses from 2009-2010 onwards. The Certificate Courses are designed in order to cater to the current needs of the public. The Student Support Services of Periyar University are available through Library system, National Service Scheme, Youth Red Cross Society, Women's Welfare Centre and avenues for Sports and Games. The University has established the following Constituent Colleges (1) Periyar University Arts and Science College (PRUCAS) in 2006 at Mettur Dam, Salem District (2) Periyar University Arts and Science College in 2010 at Pennagaram, Dharmapuri District. Thanthai Periyar had been advocating throughout his life the importance of being rational and created a stir by his self respect movement. He incessantly toiled for social justice among people to liberating the down trodden women and insisted on the priority of one's mother tongue. The Periyar Chair was created in 1998 to inculcate these ideas in the minds of students.
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 organizations 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. It proposes to focus on the social issues and upliftment of the poor. Centre for Nano Science and Technology has been established recently in the Department of Physics. The Government of Tamil Nadu has generously sanctioned Rs. 1 Crore 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 in affiliated colleges due to their economic condition. PRIDE has five hundred and twenty five study centres throughout India and seven abroad.
The established Departments, Centres, Institutes and Chair are contributing their best through academic, research and extension activities. The University is playing a paramount role in bringing multi-faceted development for the country. The University is consistently organizing various academic activities to bring researchers, scholars, activists under one umbrella to discuss, deliberate and carve out time-demanding solutions to social problems. The University stands apart with its unique "Village Adoption" activity. The University tie-ups with various academic, research institutes and universities across the world bring laurels to the academia. The University proudly celebrates days that have International significance like National Human Rights Day, Science Day, Women's Day, Environmental Day, World Mother Tongue Day to mention a few.