Part of what has given higher education its remarkable stability in recent years has been its diversity. From the point of view of policy, there are three kinds of diversity in higher education: systemic, programmatic, and structural. Binary higher education systems, representing a form of systemic diversification, have evolved as a response to the massification of higher education. However, because of a number of factors, the perceived ideal remains the traditional university. The non‐university components of binary systems tend increasingly to resemble universities through processes of academic drift. To prevent these processes which in fact negate many of the intentions of planned diversification, social esteem and prestige must be built into all sectors which will then have an interest in preserving their individual identities.