At the end of a year that has demoralised and literally devastated higher education globally, it was a buoyant Minister Blade Nzimande that opened the Higher Education Leadership and Management (HELM) virtual summit. And with good reason. The economic impact of CoVID-19 on South Africa–who was already in a recession before the initial lockdown–has been catastrophic. Yet, at the end of the year, all 26 public institutions are still standing. All had, to a greater or lesser extent, managed to move curricula from face-to-face to online modalities. The sector had survived R1 billion being removed from its annual budget and some research institutions had been part of proactive and creative interventions addressing the pandemic. They had also participated in the search for a vaccine.