By MyFm's Rick Michaels - Colleges and universities in Massachusetts could face significant fines or lose their ability to issue degrees for failing to implement financial transparency measures under a bill the House unanimously approved yesterday. Designed as a response to a recent wave of higher education closures, the legislation requires school leadership to post financial information online in a publicly accessible fashion, undergo regular budgetary screening and alert state officials if they face imminent closure. State Representative Jeff Roy of Franklin, who also represents Medway is the committee's House chair, and he says 18 colleges or universities in Massachusetts had closed or merged in the past five years, including Mount Ida College, which caught the state and many others off guard when it announced in April of last year, that it would soon close. While higher education remains a major and mostly stable industry in Massachusetts, officials have warned that smaller schools face an uncertain future because of competition, declining enrollment and rising costs and Representative Roy says "This is a trend that is likely to continue and "We have come up with a process that will allow this to be handled orderly." All colleges and universities would be required to alert the Board of Higher Education if they have any liabilities that create a risk of "imminent closure and the Franklin Democrat says " That information would remain private to allow struggling institutions to "get back on their feet, without alarming the public. The House advanced the bill 152-0 on Wednesday, two weeks after it cleared committee. Leaders of the Higher Education Committee described the changes as necessary to protect students, families and educators from the disruptions caused by school closures. House members spoke with a sense of urgency about the need for safeguards outlined in the bill, but the bill has taken months to come together and Senate leaders have given no indication of when they'll take it up.