Drinks giant Diageo is to sponsor a number of postgraduate scholarships at the International Centre for Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

The scholarships will be offered to support the study of the postgraduate diploma or MSc in brewing and distilling, Diageo said this week.

Alan Barclay, Diageo's governance director, global supply Scotland, said: "We have enjoyed a very close contact with Heriot-Watt over the years. It is a long-established university with a history of links to brewing and distilling.

"Students come from all over the world for the courses and it means that we can choose from a very high calibre of people coming into the brewing and distilling industry."

The scholarships, worth GBP6,000 (US$9,062) over three years, are due to start in September.

Professor Paul Hughes, director of the International Centre for Brewing & Distilling, said: "These scholarships are a recognition from Diageo of the value of our course. It is important that we keep up our links with industry as we want our students to be able to continue to find good jobs when they graduate.

"Diageo is a major employer world-wide and is a very competitive company to join, so these links are extremely important."

Criteria for would-be recipients of the scholarships include the gaining of at least an upper second-class honours degree in a scientific or technical discipline, as well as having an ambition to enter either the distilling or brewing industries. Applicants should also ideally have connections to Scotland.