SOUTH BEND - The University of Notre Dame has unveiled a plan to strengthen the undergraduate residence hall communities on the South Bend campus. The university says the plan includes incentives for seniors to live on campus and a requirement for students to live on campus for six semesters.

Notre Dame says the new strategy is the result of input from students and discussions with its board of trustees. The new policy will begin with the incoming freshman class in the 2018-2019 academic year.

Among the incentives for seniors to stay on campus, the university plans to officer more flexibility in meal plans and choice of rooms, as well as additional leadership roles within the residence halls. Erin Hoffmann Harding, vice president for student affairs, says seniors are "crucial mentors within our communities and the University seeks to recognize the contributions of students who choose to live in the halls all four years."

Notre Dame will also put in place the requirement for freshmen, sophomores and juniors to live on campus for six semesters. The university says any time students spend studying abroad will also count toward that requirement.

"Residential life is a distinct and beloved feature of a Notre Dame undergraduate education, ultimately contributing to the formation of our students in the Catholic, Holy Cross tradition," said Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. “It is my hope that these new approaches will reinforce the crucial role of residential life and our desire to make this experience even more meaningful and attractive for all students."

Notre Dame says the new policy will require additional residence hall space, which would also make it easier for the university to provide on-campus housing to transfer students. The university is currently seeking funds for two new residence halls.